Trey Parker and Matt Stone Say They’ve Spent ‘Infinity Dollars’ on Rehabbing Casa Bonita

Or just $40 million, which is still a lot for a taco shop
Trey Parker and Matt Stone Say They’ve Spent ‘Infinity Dollars’ on Rehabbing Casa Bonita

What price could one possibly put on the joy a Denver-area child experiences as they marvel at cliff divers and puppet shows while eating mushy refried beans? Forty million dollars, apparently.

Casa Bonita in Lakewood, Colorado, is a towering pink titan of entertainment and excitement that treats thousands of visitors to a buffet-style bevy of beans and tortillas while they explore the kitschy, anachronistic attractions that, long ago, stole the hearts of a pair of young Colorado troublemakers by the names of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. In the decades since Stone insisted on spending every birthday at the pink palace, Stone and Parker became exorbitantly wealthy through their flagship venture South Park, but they’ve never once forgotten their roots.

South Park fans who have never set foot in Colorado know the name “Casa Bonita” because Parker and Stone couldn’t stop making references to their favorite taco temple throughout the run of the show. And today, Parker and Stone aren’t just devoted patrons of Casa Bonita, they’re co-owners, looking forward to the restaurant's highly anticipated grand-reopening in the coming weeks, which they’ve spent “infinity dollars” to make it happen.

When Casa Bonita was on the verge of closure at the height of the pandemic in 2020, Parker and Stone swooped in to save the establishment and get their feet in the comically oversized doors — however, only after the pair paid $3.1 million to the former Casa Bonita proprietors did they realize that saving the sinking ship would take more than plugging a few holes.

In a New York Times story published earlier this week, Parker and Stone detailed the painstaking improvements they’ve had to make to the pirate/western/jungle themed Mexican restaurant to drag it into the 21st century. The duo initially planned a massive renovation project that they expected to cost $10 million, however, the budget quickly ballooned to $20 million, causing Parker and Stone’s business partners to beg them to cut their losses. They refused, even to the point of spending “infinity dollars” (or $40 million) just to finish what they started. “It would be way cheaper if we just went hang gliding over volcanoes,” Stone joked.

“We could have rebuilt this twice as big, for half as much money, but we spent so much restoring it, like a piece of art,” Stone explained. “And the food is excellent.” Parker and Stone brought in accomplished head chef Dana Rodriguez, a six-time James Beard Award nominee, who applied to work at Casa Bonita in 1998 after immigrating to the U.S., looking for her first job in her new homeland, only to be turned away for being “underqualified.” She applied for the head chef position as soon as Stone and Parker made it available, asking them in the interview, “Now am I qualified?” 

The clash between Parker and Stone’s devotion to the confusing charm of Casa Bonita and the practical demands of actually owning it has been an expensive one. Most notably, the famous 30-foot cliff diving set previously required performers to exit the pool by swimming through a 30 inch-wide tunnel — directly into the electrical room. “There were 200 amps of power directly to the left,” the head of the renovations Scott Shoemaker said. “When I saw it, I called Matt and told him, ‘This is the most dangerous room I’ve ever seen.’”

Private islands in the Bahamas start at $14 million, which means that Parker and Stone could have purchased two of them and still have Lambo money leftover for the price they’re paying to change Casa Bonita from a diarrhea-inducing death trap into, well, not that. But, hey, if Cartman is willing to spend a week in juvie just for a minute-long trip through Black Bart’s Cave, then I guess it really is “totally worth it.”

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