Sunday, August 26, 2007

Casa Bonita

Wikipedia Entry of the Week:

Casa Bonita
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Casa Bonita in Colorado
This article is about the restaurant. For the South Park episode, see Casa Bonita (South Park episode).

Casa Bonita is the name of a Mexican-themed restaurant (formerly a chain of restaurants) which originated in Oklahoma City. As of 2006, only one location remains open, in the western Denver suburb of Lakewood, Colorado.

1 History
1.1 Lakewood, Colorado
1.2 Tulsa
2 Similar restaurants
3 External links


Casa Bonita was founded by Bill Waugh in 1971. The restaurants could be found in many cities in Oklahoma and adjacent states until the 1990s. The most popular dishes are the "all you can eat" beef or chicken plates that feature 2 enchiladas,a taco, refried beans, and Spanish rice. Sopaipillas - small squares of fried bread served with honey - come with every meal. The restaurant also offers some standard menu items like fajitas or salads that are not "all-you-can-eat". There is also a children's menu. Each table had a small flag that you would raise any time you needed a refill of food or drink. The food is reasonably priced but is not an authentic experience in Mexican cuisine - in fact, you don't really go to Casa Bonita for the food.

In 1982, the company (including Taco Bueno fast food restaurants) was sold to Unigate (now Uniq). In 1992, Unigate sold the restaurants to CKE Restaurants, owners of Carl's Jr. In 1997, the two remaining Casa Bonita restaurants were spun off by CKE as part of South Salt Lake, Utah-based Star Buffet.

The Tulsa location closed 30 September, 2005, leaving the Lakewood, Colorado location as the last remaining Casa Bonita restaurant.

Lakewood, Colorado

The Lakewood location, west of Denver on Colfax Avenue opened in early 1974. It features strolling mariachis, flame jugglers, and a 30-foot waterfall with cliff divers. Casa Bonita is designed to be an entertaining place for children and adults alike, although it is obvious that the children are the primary audience. It also has a small puppet theater, a "haunted tunnel" called Black Bart's Cave, an arcade with a large skee-ball room (extra charge), and a magic theater. The building is nearly 16,000 square metres and has seating for approximately 1,100 customers. This location was featured on an episode of the animated TV series South Park.

The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner and is popular with tourists and tour groups. Arriving early is advised during the summer or on weekends.


The Tulsa location, which opened in 1971, was designed to create a nighttime, outdoor atmosphere. There were full-size artificial trees, and the entry way featured large aquarium tanks which at one time housed live tropical fish. There were various themed dining areas, including a volcano room, complete with lighted eruptions; a cave room, and a room resembling an aristocratic dining hall with strolling mariachis. The Tulsa location also included a video arcade, including an original Frogger machine, as well as other video and arcade games, skee-ball, a working carousel, and a gift shop. The location shut its doors Friday, 30 September 2005 due to the end of their lease. The Tulsa location has since reopened, under the new name of Casa Viva.

Similar restaurants

Bill Waugh, founder of Casa Bonita, founded Casa Viva, opening the first location in 1995 at the site of a former Casa Bonita in Little Rock, Arkansas. (This restaurant closed however, in early 2006). Plans have been made to open a second location at the site of the closed Tulsa Casa Bonita (source: Tulsa World, October 1, 2005).

Larry H. Miller, owner of the Utah Jazz, opened a restaurant called "The Mayan" in Sandy, Utah in 2000. Casa Bonita has sued Miller for copyright infringement [4] due to similarities with their restaurant, which Miller visited several times.

A subsidiary established in the 1960s, Taco Bueno, is a major fast food chain throughout Oklahoma and Texas.

Restaurante Arroyo, in Tlalpan, Mexico, the grandaddy of all "super-size" Mexican restaurants, which seats 2,200 people and is likely the world's largest Mexican restaurant. Like Casa Bonita, Arroyo has an array of customer diversions including its own bullring.

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