The ‘South Park’ Creators Are Giving Their Casa Bonita Employees Unexpected Perks While Awaiting Reopening

Earlier this year, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone admitted that their very cool way of reliving a childhood dream (resurrecting one defunct Casa Bonita restaurant in the Denver area with actual “good food”) had quickly turned into a money pit. Actually, the word that Stone used was “a nightmare.” The eatertainment venue’s famed fountain needed to be demolished and rebuilt, and that was only the start of construction needed to get this joint up to code. This hangup put the project behind (presumed) schedule, but Stone told The Denver Post that they had poured “all our money” into the project, and “we’re committed.”

Fast forward a few more months, and it turns out that Parker and Stone (by way of “The Beautiful Opco, LLC”) also invested those dollars into the restaurant’s employees. According to CBS News, “They’ve been paying a few dozen staff members to stay on” ever since buying the sopapilla paradise. While the location remains closed for now, these workers are not only volunteering at places like Habitat for Humanity, but they’re also attending bilingual language classes (English-to Spanish and vice versa). It’s a move to build camaraderie, and the employees are thrilled:

“I don’t hear of any company that does this. I think it’s the first company to do this, to take care of the workers,” said Alex Perez, a 29-year veteran of Casa Bonita, who took English classes.

“One of the barriers we have is the language. So front of the house, back of the house, they don’t communicate,” said Dana Rodriguez, the executive chef at Casa Bonita. “I was really impressed with the English speakers because you feel like you’re in your comfort zone. You feel like you’re in your country. You don’t need to learn the language. But if they want to be part of Casa Bonita, an iconic place, they feel like they should do it,” She said. “That means a lot in our culture. It’s respect. It’s love.”

As of now, Casa Bonita still doesn’t have a set reopening date, but one can bet that the (eventual) experience should be unparalleled. In the meantime, here are some photos from the Denver-area CBS affiliate’s Jeremy Jojola, who was on hand to meet with Chef Rodriguez and to gather a promise for a margarita.

(Via CBS News)