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Despite Restaurant's Chapter 11 Filing, Fans Hope To Save Casa Bonita

Casa Bonita exterior.jpg
Stacy Nick
Iconic Lakewood restaurant Casa Bonita hasn't been open in more than a year due to the pandemic.

The owners of Casa Bonita have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. While the move may have fans fearful that it means the beginning of the end for the iconic Lakewood restaurant, it actually may pave the way to its reopening.

If approved, the filing — which was first reported by Westword — will give Summit Family Restaurants, Inc. owner Robert Wheaton time to come up with repayment efforts to Casa Bonita’s creditors, said Andrew Novick, founder of the Save Casa Bonita campaign.

“People hear bankruptcy and they definitely jump — like that’s the worst thing ever but it actually can protect the business,” Novick said.

It also would protect the restaurant from recent attempts to buy out its lease, he added. Known for its kitschy decor, cliff divers and questionable food, Casa Bonita hasn’t been open in more than a year due to the pandemic. Last month, the owners reposted the venue’s website with a vague note telling people to check back soon for details on its reopening plans. Since then, there have been no additional details.

Novick says he’s concerned about a reopening effort when the owners are struggling and starting from scratch to hire all new management and staff.

“I'm worried that they could come back in a non-positive way and then die a slow death,” he said. “I want to try to prevent that from happening.”

That’s why, in early March, Novick started Save Casa Bonita. The consortium of local leaders, restaurant owners and artists are working to come up with a plan to save the beloved venue, even considering finding investors to purchase it from Summit Family and reopening it under local ownership.

“We want to be the voice of the people, the fans,” Novick said.

So far, the GoFundMe campaign has raised nearly $16,000. The group is hosting a rally outside the West Colfax location from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to bring more attention to the effort.