The Creatives Spreading the South Park Love
Trey Parker and his creative partner Matt Stone are uber-successful. They’ve produced a Tony Award-winning musical (Book of Mormon, anyone?), directed movies (Team America, f*ck yeah!) and written one of the most successful sitcoms ever produced. But restaurant owners? If you’re a fan of South Park, you may have seen an episode titled “Casa Bonita.” In it, bully Eric Cartman isn’t invited to his friend’s birthday party, to be held at the “Disneyland of Mexican Restaurants,” Denver’s Casa Bonita. So he hatches a devious plan to get an invitation that involves a kidnapping and the apocalypse. Cartman is eventually invited, but his sinister actions are uncovered before he can enjoy the childhood treasure — adored for its waterfalls, cliff divers and puppet shows. Just watch. It’ll make sense! But guess what: Casa Bonita is not only real, it’s also a beloved staple in the Mile High City. And now, Matt and Trey are the restaurant’s proud owners. After purchasing the themed diner in 2021, the duo spent nearly $40 million to tear it down, rebuild it, and, they joke, keep everything the same.
The new Casa Bonita has many of the same theatrical elements as its previous incarnation: a puppet stage, Black Bart’s Cave, faux gold and silver mines, mariachi bands and a cliff-diving pool, replete with divers. What’s different? The eatery now has a new menu from James Beard-nominated chef Dana Rodriguez and more than 100,000 people have signed up on the restaurant’s website to make a reservation. The South Park experience extends beyond the table, too: In past years, fans of Kenny, Kyle, Eric and others have been able to hit the green and play mini-golf at “South Park” pop-up activations and test their patience in Cartman’s Escape Room, featuring a series of maddeningly challenging puzzles from the titular character’s twisted imagination.