Final summer time 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 if you happen to stated 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 possibly my seventh-grade boyfriend.
Most significantly, the restaurant business was within the technique of being saved because of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. In August 2021, the Oscar-nominated comedy impresarios behind South Park instructed 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 points of interest and dangerous 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 Courtroom stuff, rising gasoline costs, a battle, 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, at the least within the U.S. this month, Casa Bonita isn’t any nearer to reopening.
In an interview with the Denver Submit, Parker and Stone stated that rehabbing Casa Bonita is a complete shitshow, primarily resulting from years of deferred upkeep, evaluating it to a extremely dangerous Kitchen Nightmares case.
In line with Parker: “What we thought can be, ‘Oh this will likely be cool. We will purchase this and open it and it’ll be round once more,’ became ‘Oh that is going to be what now we have to place all our cash into and hope that it really works.’”
Just about nobody, apart from me on this publication one 12 months in the past, may have predicted that making six 22-minute cartoons per 12 months 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 finest musical, nor Invoice Hader on my writing workers. In reality, I needed to write this complete weblog publish by myself with just about 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 stated, ‘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 instructed the Denver Submit. “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, accountable for solely revamping the restaurant’s meals. The consensus is that the meals at Casa Bonita has at all times been fairly dangerous, however Rodriguez has emphasised that she shares a objective with Parker and Stone to “change nothing and enhance every thing.” In the meantime, as renovations are undertaken, Parker and Stone have retained Casa Bonita’s complete workers, 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 fairly savvy PR transfer or a complete change of coronary heart from two guys who had been local weather change deniers till 2018. Both method, looks like a pleasant factor to do.
Or possibly they’re simply actually, actually nostalgic in regards to the idiosyncratic vestiges of rising up in Colorado. Lately 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 shifting right into a scorching canine stand that’s formed like a scorching canine. “Weak, I dwell in a scorching 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 available on the market 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 possibly 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 scorching canine.
“I instructed Les Claypool (of Primus) in regards to the scorching canine and he [expletive] flipped out. He was like, ‘It’s a must to purchase that scorching canine,’” Stone instructed the Submit.
“I might love to purchase the new canine and put it within the parking zone of Casa Bonita,” stated Parker. “I feel that’d be wonderful.”
However actuality, it appears, has set in. Per Stone, “We simply can’t tackle one other damaged restaurant mission proper now.”
Of all the teachings one may be taught from finding out the restaurant business, a really distinguished one is, wealthy weirdos are in all probability not going to put it aside. As has been stated (or sung, truly) on South Park, “Seasons change, time passes by.” Time will ultimately fell lots 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 Crimson Rocks Amphitheatre, I assume. These seem to dwell on in infamy.