If you’re at all like us, you were first introduced to the concept of Casa Bonita—a small chain of Mexican “eatertainment” restaurants in the Western parts of the United States—through an episode of South Park that aired during the show’s 7th season. (Which ran 18 years ago, in 2003, so pardon us while we briefly turn to dust.) At which point, if you continue to be like us, you assumed that the restaurants were made up for the show, because how could such a paradise exist? Sopapillas? Black Bart’s Cave? Cliff divers? Surely, this fantastic wonderland of Colorado-based Mexican food and novelty photo ops must have sprung, like Athena, fully formed from the heads of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
But no: Casa Bonita is real—or was. The COVID-19 shutdowns have been understandably hard on the eatertainment industry (and, honestly, the chain was down to only one location already when the pandemic rolled around), which is now apparently in some serious financial peril. (The parent company reportedly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April.) But there’s a potentially happy ending to this tale of woe, because while Parker and Stone may not have invented Casa Bonita, they are definitely fans, and are apparently thinking about buying the last remaining restaurant for themselves.
“We want to buy Casa Bonita and treat it right. I feel like it was neglected even before the pandemic,” Parker told THR earlier today. Located in Lakewood, Colorado, the restaurant is the last vestiges of a chain that was apparently a big deal to both creators as kids. And to be clear, this doesn’t seem to be a joke: Parker and Stone seem to genuinely want to spend their ridiculous piles of 24-years-of-South–Park money on one of those classic “What I’d do if I was mega-rich” dreams, i.e., recreating the classic restaurant experience of their youth. “We started talking about the changes we’re going to make—mostly with the food,” Parker told THR. “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.”