LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Casa Bonita could be open by Memorial Day, according to the restaurant's parent company. The President of Summit Family Restaurants, Bob Wheaton, said reopening the beloved Colorado landmark is a daunting task after being closed for more than a year.
"When a restaurant of that size is closed for that long it takes a lot of work to reopen," Wheaton said.
Summit Family Restaurants filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Arizona on April 6, according to court documents obtained by Denver7. Despite filing for bankruptcy, plans to reopen are moving forward.
The restaurant, known for its cliff divers and sopapillas, shutdown in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic back in March 2020. Wheaton says Casa Bonita has remained closed due to restrictions but he is hopeful it can open by Memorial Day.
He said one of the biggest challenges will be hiring all the employees needed to run the place. The staff size varies on a seasonal basis and can fluctuate anywhere from 100 employees to more than 300 employees during busy times like the holidays.
"There’s already been enough local restaurants that have been shutting down recently and Casa Bonita is something that is so close to Denver hearts so it’s definitely an important place to stay open," said Spencer Mousseau, a former cliff diver.
Prior to the bankruptcy filing, a group of fans and restaurateurs launched a crowdfunding campaign to save Casa Bonita. The campaign is still ongoing and it has raised more than $37,000 as of the time this article was published.
Organizer, Andrew Novick, has visited Casa Bonita more than 300 times and he says he simply wants to keep it alive. He said the group is exploring various options considering the current financial state of the restaurant. He says the money could even be used to put together an acquisition deal.
"If we could we would love to operate it, we would love to bring the ownership to Colorado and we have a lot of expertise willing to help do that if it’s possible," said Novick.