Casa Bonita (copy)

“If and when we reopen, it will not be a big celebration, it’ll be a major celebration,” said Bob Wheaton, the president of Summit Family Restaurants Inc. “We just can’t wait for that day to come.”

At least 50 people plan to hit the streets with signs, t-shirts and even a monkey suit Saturday to show their support for Casa Bonita, the iconic Lakewood Mexican restaurant that's been closed for the past year. 

A 2003 episode of "South Park" introduced the country to the Colorado landmark's indoor cliff divers, fire jugglers and sopapillas. But Casa Bonita has been closed since March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic

"They've been closed for over a year now and just recently filed for bankruptcy" protection, said Andrew Novick, an organizer of the rally who added he has gone to the restaurant at least 300 times. "We're telling people to bring their own signs and we'll have an area for sign-making if people don't have them, but we're really just trying to show our support."

Earlier this month, Summit Family Restaurants, the parent company of Casa Bonita for 25 years, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from its creditors. The restaurant plans to reopen this spring, The Denver Gazette previously reported.

Landmark Casa Bonita files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows businesses and nonprofits to continue operating under current management while developing a plan of reorganization to repay creditors over time.

Before the bankruptcy court filing, Novick and a handful of people organized Save Casa Bonita, LLC -- a group of "Denver natives and residents from several industries who love Casa Bonita and are very worried about its future," according to its website. 

The coalition was formed earlier this year after a petition was started to 'Save Casa Bonita,' but was not gaining any traction. Novick said they wanted to create a GoFundMe page to do everything in their power to keep the iconic restaurant afloat.

"Petitions aren't that meaningful to me, because I think people will sign anything, so we started the fundraiser," Novick said. "If people put money towards something, regardless of the amount, it kind of shows more support than a petition."

They have raised over $45,200 with a goal of $100,000, according to the Go Fund Me site. 

Landmark Casa Bonita files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

The group also has created merchandise that include pens, buttons, shirts and pins, the sales of which go to the fund, Novick said.

He is encouraging anyone who has been to Casa Bonita to show up for the rally, even if it's for a few minutes.

"Everyone is welcomed and we've invited over 700 people to the Facebook event," Novick said. "Hopefully we'll be able to line up the entire Colfax Avenue with our signs, shirts and chants showing our support for Casa Bonita."

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