Final summer season was an easier, extra harmless time. It was, like, 4 COVID variants in the past, a few of us had been awash in mac and cheese ice cream, and when you mentioned the phrases “bear” and “Chicago” to me in the identical sentence, what immediately got here to thoughts was wandering into the Lincoln Park Zoo on my highschool lunch break, or perhaps my seventh-grade boyfriend.
Most significantly, the restaurant business was within the strategy of being saved due to Trey Parker and Matt Stone. In August 2021, the Oscar-nominated comedy impresarios behind South Park informed Colorado Gov. Jared Polis that they’d determined to heroically swoop in to buy Casa Bonita, the “Disneyland of Mexican eating places” in Lakewood, Colorado, infamous for squeezing kitschy roadside sights and unhealthy meals (save, maybe, the sopapillas) right into a frilly pink landmark.
Nicely, catastrophe was looming over our too-brief Pax Americana. Little did we all know, we had been heading into 12 months of extra COVID, inflation, some scary Supreme Court docket stuff, rising gas costs, a conflict, and an uphill slog to get Casa Bonita again open for enterprise. And whereas gasoline costs appear to be taking place and inflation appears to not be going up, a minimum of within the U.S. this month, Casa Bonita is not any nearer to reopening.
In an interview with the Denver Publish, Parker and Stone mentioned that rehabbing Casa Bonita is a complete shitshow, primarily as a consequence of years of deferred upkeep, evaluating it to a extremely unhealthy Kitchen Nightmares case.
In response to Parker: “What we thought could be, ‘Oh this will likely be cool. We will purchase this and open it and it’ll be round once more,’ become ‘Oh that is going to be what we have now to place all our cash into and hope that it really works.’”
Just about nobody, aside from me on this publication one yr in the past, might have predicted that making six 22-minute cartoons per yr wouldn’t simply translate into profitable restaurant possession. Eating places are very costly and tough to open and run. That’s why as an alternative of proudly owning a restaurant, I copy edit tales about individuals who do. However I additionally don’t have a number of of the sweetest offers in tv historical past, nor any Tony Awards for greatest musical, nor Invoice Hader on my writing employees. In actual fact, I needed to write this whole weblog put up by myself with nearly no assist from Invoice Hader in any respect. However that’s a lot simpler than turning round a uncared for cultural icon.
“Anybody else that’s mentioned, ‘Oh I needed to purchase Casa Bonita,’ they wouldn’t have made it as a result of that is going to value a lot and it’s actually dumb,” Parker informed the Denver Publish. “We completely ought to bail and cease spending cash, however we’re dedicated now.”
This isn’t to say no progress has been made. In fall 2021, Casa Bonita put Dana Rodriguez, a James Beard-nominated Denver chef, in cost of solely revamping the restaurant’s meals. The consensus is that the meals at Casa Bonita has at all times been fairly unhealthy, however Rodriguez has emphasised that she shares a objective with Parker and Stone to “change nothing and enhance every little thing.” In the meantime, as renovations are undertaken, Parker and Stone have retained Casa Bonita’s total employees, paying them as an alternative to work for Denver-area nonprofits, together with We Don’t Waste, which salvages and redistributes so-called meals waste. It’s both a reasonably savvy PR transfer or a complete change of coronary heart from two guys who had been local weather change deniers till 2018. Both manner, looks as if a pleasant factor to do.
Or perhaps they’re simply actually, actually nostalgic in regards to the idiosyncratic vestiges of rising up in Colorado. Not too long ago on South Park — nicely, it’s too sophisticated to get into, however after a comedic sequence of occasions fueled by his venal sociopathy, Eric Cartman and his mom ended up transferring right into a sizzling canine stand that’s formed like a sizzling canine. “Weak, I reside in a sizzling canine,” Cartman deadpans, after being squirted within the face with each ketchup and mustard. Really, this present deserves the Peabody it was awarded in 2005 for “pushing buttons and envelopes with stringent social commentary.”
The new canine, in reality, is one other drawn-from-life Colorado landmark: the Coney Island Boardwalk in Bailey, which got here in the marketplace this spring with a $1.5 million price ticket. As a result of it’s a throwback roadside attraction with a distinguished characteristic on South Park that’s beloved in Colorado, hypothesis started that perhaps Parker and Stone would purchase that one, too, now that they’d purchased Casa Bonita. They’re each venues, in any case, so campily absurd that they resemble real-life cartoons already. And, arguably, “Isn’t actual life so absurd it’s cartoonish?” is the central conceit in Parker and Stone’s work. They usually’re, like, multimillionaires — makes whole sense for them to purchase a sizzling canine.
“I informed Les Claypool (of Primus) in regards to the sizzling canine and he [expletive] flipped out. He was like, ‘You need to purchase that sizzling canine,’” Stone informed the Publish.
“I’d love to purchase the recent canine and put it within the car parking zone of Casa Bonita,” mentioned Parker. “I believe that’d be superb.”
However actuality, it appears, has set in. Per Stone, “We simply can’t tackle one other damaged restaurant undertaking proper now.”
Of all the teachings one might study from finding out the restaurant business, a really distinguished one is, wealthy weirdos are most likely not going to put it aside. As has been mentioned (or sung, really) on South Park, “Seasons change, time passes by.” Time will finally fell a lot of our most-cherished now-decrepit childhood icons. Until they’re billion-dollar cartoon franchises that celebrated a twenty fifth anniversary this month with a two-night live performance stand at Colorado’s Purple Rocks Amphitheatre, I suppose. These seem to reside on in infamy.