With thousands of people anticipating Casa Bonita’s grand reopening, fans seeking to experience the revitalized Lakewood restaurant should expect a wait. Lucky for locals, there’s a brewery in the same shopping complex that’s already preparing to accommodate the masses.
WestFax Brewing Co., at 6733 W. Colfax Ave. in Lakewood, has been Casa Bonita’s neighbor since opening in the Lamar Station Plaza in 2016. Jackie Martuscello, the brewery’s marketing and sales manager, said she knows the date the eatertainment venue plans open its doors, but she can’t say thanks to a host of nondisclosure agreements she signed.
What she and WestFax can do, however, is serve craft beer to people who want to gawk at the esteemed pink palace, famous for its indoor waterfall, cliff divers and sopapillas, as they speculate about what’s to come. Casa Bonita isn’t even open yet and WestFax has seen a bump in business form people stopping by to take pictures, Martuscello said.
“Every day last week, as Casa Bonita is getting close to opening, the patio has been full,” she said. “We have a front row seat to everything that’s going on over there and people are starting to catch on to that.”
Founded in 1974, Casa Bonita has long been a beloved local landmark, notably, in spite of the food, which many locals say was questionable at best. It closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19 before Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the locally raised creators of the “South Park” TV show, purchased it out of bankruptcy in 2021.
In December, the duo announced Casa Bonita would open sometime in May and with each passing day, fervor about the reopening reaches a new pinnacle. Case in point: More than 15,000 people have RSVPed on Facebook for a fictitious event to be the first in line when the pink palace makes its grand re-debut.
To celebrate Cinco de Mayo earlier this month, WestFax released a Mexican lager called Line Starts Here to both build hype for the reopening and pay tribute to its neighbor.
Last year, Casa Bonita paid to level out the brewery’s patio, which Martuscello said previously featured an awkward hump of dirt and concrete with a lamp post sticking out of it. While Martuscello and her husband Anthony Martuscello, WestFax’s founder and president, planned to renovate the space in the future, they couldn’t afford to do so on the heels of the pandemic, she said.
Representatives from Casa Bonita said they needed the lamp post and offered to trade the patio renovation for it, Martuscello said.
Since the construction, WestFax staff added a fire pit area, hung lights and planted trees in planter boxes to help spruce up what’s sure to be the best place for people watching as folks flock back to Casa Bonita.
“We want to be an option for people to come hang out, and more people will want to hang out if we have a cool space,” she said, adding there’s seating for about 50 people.
Despite the Mexican lager’s name, Line Starts Here, Martuscello isn’t entirely sure if Casa Bonita will have guests line up to be seated on a first-come, first-served basis like it historically has, or if the restaurant will require reservations. (A Casa Bonita spokesperson offered no comment on the subject.) But should a line of Casa Bonita hopefuls file down the block and in front of WestFax, she’s trying to figure out if she will be able to serve them beer as they wait.
Line Starts Here, a limited release, is nearly sold out at the brewery, though it may be brewed again in the future, Martuscello said. Those who dine at the pink palace will find WestFax’s Urban Lumberjack hazy IPA on draft, she added.
Despite the high-profile nature of the reopening, Martuscello applauded Casa Bonita as a great neighbor not only for covering the cost of the patio renovation, but also cleaning up the strip mall, which she said became a hot spot for unhoused individuals during the pandemic.
“I’m really excited for the first night they’re open because they’ve had it lit up a couple of times and our patio just glows,” she said. “It’s the perfect atmosphere. Everybody would want to be part of it and sit outside and take it all in.”
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