Operations

Casa Bonita is hiring 500 for planned reopening in May

The creators of "South Park" are reworking the Denver landmark and have positions to fill ranging from cliff divers to front- and back-of-the-house staff.
Casa Bonita Denver
Casa Bonita has undergone a complete overhaul. /Photo courtesy of Casa Bonita.

If your career training includes cliff diving, here’s a job for you.

The iconic restaurant Casa Bonita in Denver, which was acquired last year by the creators of the TV series “South Park,” is scheduled to finally reopen in May after a complete overhaul. The new-and-improved restaurant plans to hire more than 500 people in all kinds of positions, from front- and back-of-the-house staff to entertainers—including cliff divers, who perform by leaping into a pool fed by a 30-foot waterfall.

On Instagram, Casa Bonita’s Executive Chef Dana Rodriguez this week was joined by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to help get the word out about the hiring push.

The more than 50-year-old landmark was acquired out of bankruptcy in 2021 for $3.1 million by “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who grew up in Denver and featured the then-kitchy restaurant in several episodes of the TV series.

At the time, Casa Bonita was owned by Summit Family Restaurants, which filed bankruptcy in April 2021. The Denver location of Casa Bonita has been shuttered since the pandemic began.

The 52,000-square-foot restaurant could seat more than 1,000 people and was known for its mariachi bands and kid-friendly entertainment, like puppet shows and a spooky area known as Black Bart’s Cave. Parker and Stone pledged not to change the environment too much.

Casa Bonita was not, however, known for its food, which was often described as subpar. Rodriguez, however, vowed to change that reputation with the refresh to come.

Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, Rodriguez has been a James Beard Best Chef Award nominee several times and is known for the concepts Super Mega Bien, Cantina Loca and Work & Class.

For Rodriguez, who is among the semifinalists for Outstanding Chef in the latest round of Beard Award nominees announced last week, the opportunity to rework Casa Bonita’s team has particular significance.

The chef said she applied for a job at Casa Bonita in 1998, when she first came to the U.S. and had little English. But she was told she wasn’t qualified.

At the website casabonitajobs.com, the advertised positions give a sense of what’s to come. Most positions require “creating a magical experience” for guests.

Under the two categories for entertainers—wet and dry—job descriptions include the ability to portray both staged romance and combat, jumping into a pool from up to 16 feet and performing in full costume, possibly including a gorilla mask.

Table assistant pay starts at $14.27 per hour, plus pooled tips and a shift meal. Cooks start between $18 and $23 per hour. Full-time workers are also eligible for health care and other benefits.

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