Food News

Casa Bonita Dropping Sopaipilla Crumbs on Reopening Date

See you this summer?
See you this summer? Evan Semón
Closed since March 2020, Casa Bonita has started dropping sopaipilla crumbs for those tracking when the pink eatertainment palace might reopen.

"Casa Bonita expects to provide menu service in late July or early August, after all inspections are complete," reads a July 15 court filing that the Casa Bonita ownership group submitted as part of its ongoing bankruptcy case. The restaurant is waiting on final health and fire inspections, according to that same document.

The filing was enough to inspire a 9News report, but those who've been following the bankruptcy case and the work at the building at 6715 West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood are skeptical that Casa Bonita will reopen that quickly.

West Metro Fire Rescue inspected the restaurant on June 10 and found "a few code compliance issues that need to be addressed," says Ronda Scholting, WMFR spokesperson. "We’re aware that the restaurant is working on them, and we’ve been keeping in contact."


While reopening preparations continue, Casa Bonita has been offering free tours of the place. "We have such a great entertainment group already put together that we just said, 'Hey, why don't we do these tours?' We're not charging for ’em, but we're keeping our entertainers in practice, and it's actually kind of fun and keeps our employees enthusiastic," Robert Wheaton told Westword last month. Wheaton's company, Summit Family Restaurants, now owns the eatertainment complex founded by Bill Waugh in 1974.
click to enlarge The grotto is a popular spot on the Casa Bonita tour. - EVAN SEMÓN
The grotto is a popular spot on the Casa Bonita tour.
Evan Semón
In June 2020, Summit Family Restaurants began missing rent payments to BSV Lamont JCRS, its landlord at the Lakewood shopping plaza where it's been a landmark for almost fifty years. As of April, Casa Bonita owed its landlord over $350,000 in unpaid rent; that month, Summit Family Restaurants filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Arizona. The case has since been transferred to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado. Court filings indicate that Casa Bonita plans to repay its debts through a combination of federal emergency business relief money and the profits that the restaurant and entertainment complex typically generated when it was at full capacity, which allows it to pack in 1,200 diners at a time.

"Restaurants come and go all the time. And Casa Bonita has remained financially viable for an awful lot of years. It took COVID and some very unfortunate regulatory dictates to cripple the business, but up until that time, it generated extraordinarily consistent results," Wheaton told Westword in June (he did not return a call requesting an update on the reopening schedule).

Except for the tours, the 52,000-square-foot facility has remained closed to the public since all restaurants in Colorado were ordered closed for in-person dining on March 17, 2020. While most other area restaurants have reopened, Casa Bonita has stayed shuttered. But it's definitely staffing up.

A July 21 monthly report related to the bankruptcy case indicates that Casa Bonita has hired 46 full- or part-time staffers, indicating that it's ramping up to a reopening.

"From what I've heard from the grapevine of people working there...it really sounded like late August or early September," says Andrew Novick, the leader of Save Casa Bonita, which paid off some of Casa Bonita's creditors, in the process becoming a party to the bankruptcy actions.

Whenever Casa Bonita does finally reopen, its fans will be ready to raise the flag for more sopaipillas.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.