LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Casa Bonita is on the verge of reopening for the first time in more than three years, and local media got a peek Friday inside the iconic Mexican restaurant.
The Lakewood restaurant has been undergoing more than $12 million in extensive renovations since "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone bought it for $3.1 million in September 2021.
Famous for its elaborate interior, cliff divers and sopapillas, the Colorado restaurant has been closed since the pandemic began in March 2020. Parker, Stone and new Casa Bonita Executive Chef Dana Rodriguez announced in December the restaurant would be reopening in May, but the exact date has yet to be revealed and there are only a few days left in month.
The focus of the renovation of Casa Bonita has been “change nothing, improve everything.” You’ll notice improvements from the line to enter. Gone are the two cashier stations where clerks sold tickets holding up a long line of people. The ticketing and food ordering area is now a separate hall with eight ticketing windows where patrons can pay admission and order their food.
Food is still served cafeteria style, but the area where trays are disbursed now includes a view of some of the food you’re about to eat. In a windowed area, patrons can watch an employee cooking fresh tortillas.
Out of sight of visitors is a large kitchen designed to the specifications of Rodriguez. Inside that kitchen, the staff chops fresh tomatillos and other vegetables – part of her plan to make all the food from scratch on the inside.
The inside of the restaurant has maintained much of its original charm with some huge improvements. The entire restaurant is now ADA complaint with railings and elevators to allow people to get anywhere in the restaurant. The restaurant no longer reeks of a mix of chlorine and sewage. And the sopapillas are still there and still unlimited.
PHOTOS: Inside Casa Bonita – Black Bart's Cave, the Lagoon
What is on Casa Bonita's menu?
The new menu includes enchiladas, carnitas, adobo chicken, picadillo, calabacitas, camarones, Casa Bonita mole and taco salad.
PHOTOS: Casa Bonita's new menu, food and drinks
Earlier this week Casa Bonita installed billboards on West Colfax Avenue in Denver declaring itself "The Greatest Restaurant in the World." Casa Bonita employees were spotted entering the restaurant on Thursday as final preparations were made.
On Thursday, Casa Bonita updated its Facebook profile and cover photos, removing the sticker that said it's opening in May.
Casa Bonita fans can sign up for the restaurant's email list to get the latest updates on the restaurant's reopening: CasaBonitaDenver.com/email.
And while everyone waits for the reopening, check out more of 9NEWS' Casa Bonita content:
- When will Casa Bonita reopen? Here's a theory that we love
- Auction of Casa Bonita-themed license plate reaches into thousands
- From Casa Bonita's cliff to 130-foot jumps, professional diver remembers his roots
- Arvada couple shares memories of their Casa Bonita wedding
- Casa Bonita plans safety, crowd control plans for reopening
- Old Casa Bonita displays and 'Penny Pincher' machine put up for sale
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