LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS) – If you drive down Colfax and see a gold dome you know you are in Colorado, but there is more than one. There’s the Colorado State Capitol downtown, of course, but there’s one on the west side that overlooks one of Lakewood’s best-known restaurants. Casa Bonita.
“If you say ‘Denver’ and you’ve heard of Denver from everywhere, you’ve heard of Casa Bonita,” said Merhia Wiese, a Denver resident.
The themed restaurant with cliff divers, mariachi bands and colorful characters has been around since the 1970s. It developed a loyal following among Coloradans, but the future of this institution is uncertain. In the middle of the pandemic, the restaurant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
That is why Diana Morales Ayala was on the side of Colfax painting, even though she is not an artist.
“I’m a baker,” she says.
She takes time out to her bakery to signal a coalition of Denver residents holding a Save Casa Bonita rally on Saturday.
“We didn’t have enough for all of the people who showed up,” says Diana.
The group wants to raise money and attract investors so they can buy the restaurant while keeping the things people love and bring it into the 21st century too.
Improving the notoriously bad food is one of those goals.
Merhia Wiese, also a member of the coalition, says: “What do you do with a restaurant that has been around for over 40 years and that nobody likes?”
They say they want to keep the place for the sake of nostalgia.
“From the memories I have and the memories I have of my kids when they were little … I would love it if that lived on,” says Diana.
They say in a sea of chains and new Denver growth, it represents what Colorado once was.
“It’s important because it’s original. It’s a unique place in the country, ”says Rick Griffith, coalition member and bookseller.
The coalition says if they can save Casa Bonita, the state and its residents will love what they can make of it.
“Let’s get back to cliff jumping!” exclaims Griffith.
LINK: Save Casa Bonita GoFundMe Page | savecasabonita.org