February 3, 2023 | NEWS | By Lucaiah Smith-Miodownik

Foodies rejoice – Casa Bonita is set to reopen in May of this year. The Lakewood, Colo. restaurant has been closed since 2020, when it shut its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the restaurant’s ownership has changed hands and it prepares for what some say will be an epic reopening.

For starters, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone now own Casa Bonita. The pair bought the establishment after it went bankrupt in April 2021, again because of the Pandemic. The duo’s connection to Casa Bonita dates back to at least 2003, when South Park aired an episode by the same name. As Parker put it in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the decision to make the purchase “just feels natural.”

Renowned culinary artist Dana Rodriguez, a multiple time nominee for James Beard Awards Best Chef, will head the kitchen. Rodriguez already has ownership in three other restaurants in the Denver area, including Super Mega Bien, Cantina Loca, and Work & Class. Growing up in on a farm without running water or electricity in Chihuahua, Mexico, an average day for a young Rodriguez included helping her mother make tortillas. After a vacation to Colorado in 1998, however, she chose to stay.

With her she brought a passion for cooking and a whole lot of hard work. In an interview with CBS, Rodriguez recounted long hours and stress, neither of which got to her, saying “In the Latino community, you never think about you’re going to break down, you’re going to go down, you’re always the strongest person.” She continues, “I’m a single mom with three kids. I’m like, you ever going to give up? Hell no.”

Such an attitude has led her far. In fact, when Rodriguez begins at Casa Bonita in May, it will not be her first time in contact with the restaurant. After moving to Colorado, she applied to work there. As for Casa Bonita’s response, in Rodriguez’s words – “You’re not qualified to work here, lady.” Fast forward a few years, and she is now set to become Executive Chef at that very same establishment.

Casa Bonita is looking to hire a few more people, too. Between now and opening day, Rodriguez hopes to bring in over 500 employees for a variety of positions, some of which include diving. The restaurant falls into the category of “eatertainment,” striving to provide an experience that’s more than just food.

While patrons will have to wait a few more months before stepping into the revamped eatery complete with an even brighter pink exterior than before, those intrigued by Rodriguez can still visit her three other restaurants in the meantime.

The Catalyst reached out to Casa Bonita for correspondence; however, the restaurant is not accepting interviews at this time.

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