On March 20, Casa Bonita was recognized as an official landmark by the Lakewood Historical Society. The pink-and-white eatertainment palace opened on West Colfax Avenue in 1974 (it was constructed a year earlier, hence the plaque's reference to 1973), and has been the anchor business of the shopping strip it centers for those four decades. Recognized by the historical society for its contribution to the local economy over the years, Casa Bonita hosted many longtime fans of the restaurant, as well as former and current employees and members of various community group, at the designation ceremony. (Photographer Brandon Marshall was on hand, too; see his full slideshow here
Though the strip mall area has fallen into disrepair over the last few years, Casa Bonita manager and longtime employee Mike Mason and others used the opportunity to talk about improvements being made to the surrounding retail space, including repaving the parking lot and adding more pedestrian-friendly walkways. Planet Fitness is a large, recent addition to the center, and several new tenants are planned. But as the quick ceremony for Casa Bonita came to a close around 10:45 a.m., school buses were already pulling up and unloading dozens of children ready to take their first trip into the storied restaurant, proving that Casa Bonita will always be the main attraction here.
Perhaps the most notable part of the ceremony was what wasn't discussed: Casa Bonita's food. But while Lakewood's newest landmark is technically a restaurant, Casa Bonita is about so much more than the food. It's about the whole experience: dining next to a waterfall, cliff divers included; visiting Black Bart's Cave; sharing in what tens of thousands of Coloradans and visitors alike have enjoyed over the past forty years. Here's to many more.
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