Casa Bonita shut its doors in March 2020, and for a year, owner Robert Wheaton was largely silent about the fate of the almost-fifty-year-old pink eatertainment palace. In February, he finally told Westword, “I don’t expect a change in regulations until the vaccine is more broadly distributed,” and predicted the place would reopen this summer. In mid-March, the casabonitadenver.com website came back to life, promising that "Casa Bonita is re-opening soon."
Then, early this month, more action: Wheaton's Summit Family Restaurants filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for Casa Bonita. That means Wheaton has some time to reorganize as he plans the reopening...and his landlord can't take action for all that back rent in the meantime.
But others are definitely acting. South Park, which devoted an entire episode to the legendary spot in 2003, brought it up again in a vaccination special last month; creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are clearly fans. And superfan Andrew Novick, who set up a Save Casa Bonita GoFundMe page in March to display community support for the place ($43K raised so far), is hosting a rally in front of Casa Bonita at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 24 (it was postponed from April 17 because of snow).
Until then, fans are rallying on the Westword Facebook post about the bankruptcy news. Says Stacy:
I had my tenth birthday there; I used to love that place. I'll be sad to see it go.
The one way to save this place: Rewrite the menu, hire a real chef. Otherwise, let it die.
The question is, could someone buy it and create worse food? I don’t think it’s possible but....
They have the worst food in the world, but that is not why you go there. Denver would never be the same without Casa Bonita. I sincerely hope they can make it work.
The South Park creators and Taco Bell NEED to partner up and buy this!
Fuck Taco Bell. They should just buy it and make it Cash Bonita and South Park-themed.
Not one time did I eat decent Mexican food while in Colorado, this place definitely included. I do fondly remember the decor and swimmers who gave us a show. That was nice, and the multitudes of people who came to see the sights and sounds, etc.
Before the pandemic, it was always packed, with people from out of town coming from all over just to eat at Casa Bonita. Any time I took the kids, I had a two-hour-long line...but it would have helped out having great food. Although I still hold the record for the most cheese enchiladas eaten, so I'm a little biased.
That's why we as a community need to come together and save this place. How many memories are we going to let progress ruin? Look at all of the great restaurants, stores and companies that have disappeared due to progress. I say we all come together and save Casa Bonita for the future of all Coloradans.
What places lost to progress do you miss? Should Casa Bonita be saved? What are your favorite memories from there? Post a comment or share your thoughts at email@example.com.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.