The Real Casa Bonita from South Park Is in Trouble — Trey Parker and Matt Stone Want to Buy It
The extravagant Mexican restaurant was prominently featured in episodes of the long-running animated series.
Part of South Park's success has been the show's ability to follow the most outlandish storylines while still managing to stay underpinned to reality. The small-town setting plays its role: Unlike The Simpsons which veiled Springfield's location, South Park has always embraced its Colorado roots.
Part of that local iconography is Casa Bonita. Though the now-anachronistic chain was originally launched elsewhere, Lakewood, Colorado is home to the eatertainment concept's last remaining location which has been a staple of the city since 1974. Casa Bonita was even named a Lakewood Historical Society Landmark in 2015. South Park certainly helped with its fame: It was featured on the show multiple times, including in a 2003 episode entitled "Casa Bonita."
So when word broke that Casa Bonita — which closed due to the pandemic last year and hasn't fully reopened since — was in trouble, guess who has said they'll come to the rescue: South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. "We want to buy Casa Bonita and treat it right. I feel like it was neglected even before the pandemic," Parker told The Hollywood Reporter this week. "We are absolutely trying to buy it," he continued. "We are going to do everything we can. We want to make it right and make it amazing."
Summit Family Restaurants, the company that owns Casa Bonita, reportedly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as of April 6. The Hollywood Reporter says that's complicating a potential sale due to ongoing legal proceedings. But Parker — who you have to imagine has the resources to make a buyout a reality — wasn't shy about not only openly proclaiming his interest but even offered up his plans if he did take over.
"We started talking about the changes we're going to make — mostly with the food…. We're going to make really awesome food. I was already thinking about how I was going to make Black Bart's Cave a little bigger," Parker was quoted as saying. "It's just sitting there. It sucks…. 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."
That said, Chapter 11 bankruptcy — which allows for reorganization — doesn't mean a restaurant is going to close. Fellow eatertainment brand Chuck E. Cheese went through bankruptcy just last year and is supposedly now as strong as ever. And earlier this month, Colorado's KDVR reported that the restaurant only needed some repairs and inspections to be up and running by early August at the latest, citing a bankruptcy court filing from July 15.
Additionally, though Casa Bonita hasn't served food since 2020, it's not entirely closed. The restaurant's website states that they are "now offering FREE backstage tours daily" and the gift shop and arcade are open.
Still, with an offer now publically on the table from two of Colorado's most famous residents, you'd think the owners of Casa Bonita might want to at least come to the table for negotiations… and sopapillas, of course.