NewsLocal News


The long-awaited reopening of Lakewood's Casa Bonita is finally here

The iconic Colorado restaurant welcomes guests back inside on a rolling basis; timed ticket entry required
Posted: 11:07 AM, Jun 21, 2023
Updated: 2023-06-22 01:07:58-04
casa bonita 052623.jpg

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — The wait is over – at least for some.

Casa Bonita on Wednesday announced the next phase of its reopening. The restaurant will open for dinner on June 23-24 and June 29-July 1, but with a limited number of timed tickets – and a price tag.

Dinner tickets are $39.99 for adults and $24.99 for kids age 3-12. Ticket purchases also come with a 15% service charge.

Only eight people per group can get tickets at one time. Tickets must be purchased online and are final sales only, non-refundable and non-transferable.

The restaurant notified e-mail subscribers of the new reopening phase Wednesday morning. A date of full reopening to the general public has not been announced.

Screen Shot 2023-06-21 at 11.46.07 AM.png

The Colorado transplants who've never been don't understand the hype. Many of us natives don't entirely understand it ourselves. Yet, there's still so much excitement over the long-awaited reopening of Casa Bonita, the famous – or infamous, depending on how you look at it – restaurant.

Whether you went right before it closed or you haven't been in decades, the images of the cliff divers, arcade and tables nestled into outcroppings of the faux-rock interior are burned into our brains.

There's some sort of nostalgic love for the eccentric restaurant we can't shake. And now, the well-known stories of bad food may be a thing of the past (thankfully).

Casa Bonita is reopening with an award-winning chef and restaurateur Dana "Loca" Rodriguez as the executive chef and culinary partner for the restaurant.

“This is a dream come true,” Rodriguez said in a news release. “Casa Bonita means so much to so many people here in Denver. I’m excited to work with Trey and Matt and reimagine the culinary program; I want to make sure this is a place where people will look forward to eating, drinking, spending time and bringing friends, family and visitors”(which frankly wasn't entirely the case in the past).

Casa Bonita closed down food service in 2020 after its owner at that time, Summit Family Restaurants, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Casa Bonita "super fans" gathered in April of 2021 to rally in support of the restaurant's future.

The event was organized by the Save Casa Bonita group, which started a GoFundMe for the restaurant in March 2021.

"Life is short and things that make me happy is what's important, and this is one place that makes me happy. So, I'm here to support," one rally supporter, Vanessa Sanchez, said.

The restaurant was then purchased by "South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker for $3.1 million.

For those who don't know, the Colorado-based restaurant gained greater notoriety outside the state when "South Park" aired an episode where one of the characters Kyle chose Stan, Kenny and Butters to celebrate his birthday at Casa Bonita. When Cartman finds out he's not invited, he arranges for Butters to conveniently go "missing."

But Casa Bonita was a prominent feature of Colorado kids' birthdays long before that.

It first opened on March 27, 1974.

Casa Bonita was founded in 1968 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, by entrepreneur Bill Waugh. It then expanded to Tulsa, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas; Fort Worth, Texas and eventually in Lakewood.

The current restaurant location used to be a Joslin's department store before the inside was converted into different facades and themed rooms inspired by Mexican architectural styles, including Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara.

The exterior is well-known for its one-of-a-kind pink tower that stands 85 feet tall, visible for miles in the Denver metro. On top of the tower's golden dome stands a statue of Cuahtémoc, the last Aztec emperor. It was repainted in 2020, requiring more than 300 gallons of custom-blended pink paint.

Casa Bonita announces next reopening phase: How and when you can get in

D7 follow up bar 2460x400FINAL.png
The Follow Up
What do you want Denver7 to follow up on? Is there a story, topic or issue you want us to revisit? Let us know with the contact form below.