Before Trey Parker and Matt Stone Bought Casa Bonita, the Restaurant Monitored ‘South Park’ Reruns to Prepare for Its Busiest Nights

‘South Park’ has been indirectly steering Casa Bonita's balance sheet for decades
Before Trey Parker and Matt Stone Bought Casa Bonita, the Restaurant Monitored ‘South Park’ Reruns to Prepare for Its Busiest Nights

According to restaurant experts, South Park has the profound power to change people’s dietary habits — anyone in the mood for some chili?

Every South Park fan knows that, in 2021, series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone swooped in to save a certain failing Mexican restaurant and amusement megaplex that had provided so many priceless childhood memories to so many Denver-area children, such as their younger selves. But before Parker and Stone saved Casa Bonita with a $40 million investment that turned the towering pink entertainment institution into “the greatest restaurant in the world,” South Park itself helped keep Casa Bonita in the black on certain nights when reruns of the iconic 2003 episode, simply titled “Casa Bonita,” played on Comedy Central, motivating families across Colorado to make their reservations and driving up sales of sopapillas and refried beans.

Back in 2015, the VICE channel “Munchies” visited Casa Bonita to see how the real world of cliff divers, puppet shows and pirate caves operated from a hospitality industry insider’s perspective. During the tour, Casa Bonita’s then-assistant manager Robbie Hall revealed that he tracked the TV guide so that he could schedule extra staffers for when the all-important South Park episode #711 would drive hordes of South Park fans into the restaurant. 

I imagine the many licensed and unlicensed City Wok locations across the country have a similar strategy.

During the segment, Hall noted that, given the fickle nature of the restaurant industry, it can be extremely difficult for managers like himself to anticipate heavy sales and thriving financial health well in advance — after all, TV Guide only publishes the schedule so many days out. During his time at Casa Bonita, Hall realized that South Park syndication offered him a unique opportunity to anticipate heavy sales and high-volume nights, and he began to shape Casa Bonitas schedule around Comedy Centrals calendar.

“One thing that we have here — its kind of crazy — we have, like, our South Park tracker,” Hall explained. “If that episode that we were featured in, which was I think episode 711, we have to prepare on being at least 10 percent up in sales.” Naturally, that increased volume comes with increased demands on the Casa Bonita staff, so waiters, servers and other employees understood that Kyles birthday was always an all-hands-on-deck event.

With a laugh, Hall said, “It is kind of funny to look at, its like, we have to track a cartoon to determine the staffing levels we have to prepare for.” 

Presumably, extra security around the cliff divers was a must on South Park nights, lest another portly trespasser get himself sent to juvie. Totally worth it.


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