Casa Bonita in Colorado set to reopen as we take a look inside the renovated and historic restaurant
LAKEWOOD, Colo. (KKTV) - The heart and soul of Casa Bonita is still alive and now thriving!
The iconic pink restaurant sits at 6715 W. Colfax Ave. in Lakewood and the 85-foot pink tower is visible for miles. Construction on the Colorado location started in 1972 and the doors opened on March 27, 1974, before closing in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2021, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone purchased the location and began renovations.
The person writing this article is a Colorado native. I remember visiting the now historic building for the first time more than two decades ago. Walking through the front doors, the lighting was dim and there was a sort of hustle and bustle across the entire restaurant. I described the food as “cafeteria-style” to my parents, but at that time it wasn’t about the food, it was about the experience. I remember exploring the restaurant like it was an amusement park, watching the cliff divers jump with cheers followed by their successful entry into the pool below. A mariachi band giving the perfect ambiance, Black Bart’s Cave, a magic show, an arcade and even a gorilla.
“The Greatest Restaurant in the World!” A billboard from I-25 down Colfax to the restaurant now reads. I know many people who would agree with that proclamation, because of the fond memories of the unique dining experience. Casa Bonita officially became a part of Colorado’s history in 2015 when it was recognized as an official landmark by the Lakewood Historical Society, but there are still plenty of chapters to be written when it comes to the future of this building.
A media tour provided on Friday showcased just a snippet of that same experience I had years ago, but honestly the restaurant felt more clean and fresh. The only way I could describe the brief tour where I wasn’t allowed to take video for most of it is by saying the Casa Bonita “culture” is still very intact. In my opinion, Parker and Stone did everything right, why change something that isn’t broken?
About $12 million worth of renovations went into the restaurant. What many say was the best part of Casa Bonita, the sopapillas, are still the same. The kitchen was completely gutted and is brand new. Some of the changes include how you get your food, it feels more open and to be honest, transparent. I could see some of the food being prepared as I walked through. They added about 4,000 square feet to the restaurant to mimic the town square of Oaxaca, Mexico, with more registers in place of just a few. I remember waiting in line years ago, and it was a long line, but that was part of the experience. The line is expected to go a lot faster with this modern setup. Guests can expect tortillas to be warm and fresh. The restaurant is more ADA accessible with a lift to the left of the cliff divers. The iconic wishing well no longer looks like a candy cane, it looks like it originally did, with more of a traditional appearance.
The different facades inside the restaurant are intended to invoke regional Mexican architectural styles including Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara, according to a fact sheet provided by the restaurant. More than 500 employees will be responsible for running the business.
The restaurant doesn’t feel like a publicity stunt. It feels like Parker and Stone’s vision was simply to resurrect the establishment and keep a Colorado icon shining with its bright pink paint for decades more.
Play the video at the top of this article to get a brief look at the tour I experienced.
An email blast issued by the restaurant on Friday explained there would be limited dinner hours and that their guests will be pulled exclusively from their email lists, with no walk-ins allowed.
CLICK HERE to be put on the list!
The menu can be viewed below:
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