Hang On, The Iconic Casa Bonita Restaurant in ‘South Park’ Once Had a Texas Location and Two Oklahoma Locations?!
You learn something new everyday and I can't believe at one point Casa Bonita was a short drive away from us.
In case you're not a big fan of South Park, one of my favorite episodes is the Casa Bonita one. Kyle is having his birthday at Casa Bonita and Cartman thought he would be automatically invited. Kyle invited Butters instead and then Cartman starts being nice so he can go. Kyle says the only way he can go is if Butters can't make it. Cartman then tricks butters into hiding for a few days so he can go to Casa Bonita.
Honestly, watching this episode back in the day. I had no idea this was a real restaurant. I could have easily Googled it, but it just seemed so outlandish to even be real. A Mexican restaurant with cliff divers in the middle of the place. Then a pirate cave to go explore and an arcade. It sounds like Chuck E. Cheese on meth, no way this place really exists.
I found out it was real when Matt Stone and Trey Parker (the creators of South Park) announced they were buying Casa Bonita a few months ago. Progress has been slow due to Covid apparently, but they're still planning to open back up at some point. This is all awesome news, but today I found out. Casa Bonita was a chain!
I thought it was just in Colorado, nope. The first Casa Bonita opened in Oklahoma City. At one point in time, I could have been two hours away from Casa Bonita?! Back in 1968, Casa Bonita opened its doors in OKC it was located along U.S. Route 66 at the intersection of NW 39th and Portland. It sadly closed in 1993 and the building would actually be demolished in 2015.
Casa Bonita would open it's second location in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1971. This one would close in 2005, reopen as the name Casa Viva 2006, go back to being Casa Bonita in 2008, and then permanently close in 2011. Sadly, no more Casa Bonitas exist in Oklahoma and I hope Matt and Trey find a way to bring one back.
Besides the location in Colorado that people know about from South Park, the other big location was in Little Rock, Arkansas. I know don't believe everything you see on Wikipedia, but the fact about this location was it was once highest volume Mexican restaurant in the United States with annual sales of up to $2,500,000. The location in Colorado would beat this location with $8,000,000 dollars in annual sales. No wonder Matt and Trey bought this place.
Also according to Wikipedia, a location existed in Fort Worth, Texas. I can't find a lot of information on this location. It apparently existed in the Hulen Mall from 1982-1985. Guess this location didn't bring in the big bucks like the other ones.
No joke, going to Casa Bonita is on my bucket list. When Matt and Trey reopen this place, I will plan a trip to Denver just to go. I am still blown away at one point in time in the 80's, we had two Casa Bonitas about a two hour drive away.