Food News

Are South Park Creators Actually Trying to Buy Casa Bonita?

Eric Cartman's trip to Casa Bonita in a 2003 episode of South Park made the pink palace internationally famous.
Eric Cartman's trip to Casa Bonita in a 2003 episode of South Park made the pink palace internationally famous. South Park
This is wackier than, well, an episode of South Park. According to an "exclusive" in the Hollywood Reporter, Trey Parker and Matt Stone are actually attempting to buy Casa Bonita, the pink entertainment palace that was the focus of a classic 2003 episode of their Comedy Central show, South Park — and years before that, a focus of their youthful obsessions when the two future filmmakers were in school in Colorado.

“We want to buy Casa Bonita and treat it right. I feel like it was neglected even before the pandemic,” Parker told the Reporter.

Fans of both South Park and Casa Bonita have been suggesting for years that Parker and Stone would be the ideal owners of the giant eatertainment complex that opened at 6715 West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood back in 1974, but has seen tough times recently. Those suggestions have only gotten louder over the past sixteen months, since Casa Bonita closed its doors in March 2020.

For almost that long, the Save Casa Bonita group has been trying to reach Parker and Stone, who seem like a natural fit for their campaign to ensure the future of the place.

"I hope they call us," says superfan Andrew Novick, who's organized a variety of events to ensure that the kitschy landmark survives. "We've been working on this for a year." In March, the group launched a GoFundMe to show community support — just days after the South Park "Vaccination Special" pronounced Casa Bonita open.

Among others who've joined in Novick's efforts is Danny Newman, whose family bought the iconic My Brother's Bar, and who led the group that recently purchased the Mercury Cafe. But he's clearly not the only local hospitality entrepreneur interested in Casa Bonita; according to the Hollywood Reporter piece, Parker and Stone have been working with unnamed "Colorado-based restaurateurs" on plans.

The company that currently owns Casa Bonita, Summit Family Restaurants, filed for Chapter 11 protection in Arizona on April 6 to fend off potential eviction actions by the landlord. Save Casa Bonita paid off some of the creditors, becoming a party to the proceedings in the process. "Casa Bonita expects to provide menu service in late July or early August, after all inspections are complete," notes a July 15 court filing that was definitely overly optimistic, since the restaurant remains closed.

A monthly report to the bankruptcy court issued on July 21 indicates that Casa Bonita has hired 46 full- or part-time staffers; at the moment, some of those staffers are offering tours of Casa Bonita, while reopening preparations continue. "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, the current owner, told Westword last month. (He hasn't returned recent requests for comment.)

But in the meantime, Casa Bonita's fans keep grasping at sopaipilla crumbs for hints of future plans...and the Reporter just dropped a bunch.

“It’s just sitting there. It sucks,” Parker told the publication. “For a moment when it was like Casa Bonita is going to close down, we said, ‘We’re going to go buy it.’ And I felt like it was the crowning achievement of my life.”

And Lakewood would welcome Parker and Stone with open arms. "This is exciting and amazing news," says Mayor Adam Paul. "It would be an incredible opportunity for our community."
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun