Casa Bonita reopened this week — on Comedy Central, at least, where South Park's Vaccination Special ended with the welcome news that Lakewood's pink palace was back in business.
In reality, though, Casa Bonita — the original eatertainment extravaganza that opened almost five decades ago at 6715 West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood — has been closed since March 2020, with no reopening in sight. That's why the spot's top fan, Andrew Novick, and some colleagues just launched a "Save Casa Bonita" campaign on gofundme.com.
Novick has been in touch with Star Buffet, Casa Bonita's owner, over the past year; CEO Robert Wheaton has promised to reopen the place, and new COVID-19 guidelines in Jefferson County make it increasingly possible to open such a massive complex, even at just 50 percent capacity. But Novick isn't waiting around for Wheaton to take action: He says he wants to show the world (and any developers sniffing around) that people are committed to keeping Casa Bonita here, no matter who owns it.
As he says on the crowdfunding site:
We are a group of artists, musicians, seasoned restaurant owners/operators, event producers, community organizers/activists and more. We love Casa Bonita and we are concerned about its future. Casa Bonita is an important cultural and historic icon and a vibrant piece of the Colorado landscape.
After watching other Colorado icons crumble under the strain of COVID, we have decided to take an active role in Casa Bonita's future. Every indication suggests that this icon of our community is under duress, and we are concerned about its long-term stability and viability. Losing Casa Bonita would be a huge blow. It is unclear what is going to happen, but we want to be prepared if funds are required to help save this beloved cultural institution.
Our goal is to raise as much money as possible from Casa Bonita fans throughout the world! Please donate if you can and please spread the word however possible – let’s SAVE CASA BONITA!
The idea is to raise enough money to show how important Casa Bonita is to this community; the funds could be used to help reopen the building, or perhaps hold events to celebrate the spot. On the site, Novick pledges a series of rewards for contributions, including stickers and T-shirts. And for those who donate over $100, he promises refunds if the money is not used in eighteen months. But he'd rather see every penny going to save and celebrate this historic spot.
“If you opened it now, it might be popular for six months and then fade away,” says Novick. “Things come and go, but because Casa Bonita has been here for so long, anyone under fifty probably went there when they were a kid, and most up to their eighties probably brought their kids there. … It builds up a kind of lore.”
And a hunger to see it back in business.
The most recent episode wasn't the first time that Casa Bonita has been featured in South Park; creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone grew up in Colorado, and a 2004 segment introduced much of the world to the wonders of Casa Bonita. Some fans have hoped that Parker and Stone would step up to preserve the place, but while assorted people are rumored to be circling the prime site on West Colfax, these two have yet to appear in the mix.
We can hope, though: Having the iconic South Park creators save this iconic spot would be a great plot twist.
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