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This rate increase comes with a caveat, though. Patrons won’t be permitted to tip anymore. The duo purchased the Lakewood, Colorado, business for $3.1 million in 2021 after the previous owners claimed bankruptcy following financial hardship spurred by the COVID pandemic, according to People.
The publication noted that Colorado currently has a minimum wage of $13.65 an hour. This means the staff at Casa Bonita makes $16.35 more than minimum wage.
The over-the-top venue is known for animatronics and entertainment that extends beyond just food. The website description says diners should expect “Mex eats & pageantry such as divers plunging into a pool below a 30-ft. waterfall & puppet shows.”
People noted that Parker had childhood birthday parties there years before he and Stone bought the venue. The Denver Gazette calls Casa Bonita the “Disneyland of Mexican restaurants.”
“During our soft-opening nights, we found that guests simply weren’t tipping. We believe it’s due to our unconventional, pre-pay ticketing system,” a Casa Bonita spokesperson told FOX 31 KDVR, per The New York Post.
“In order to provide a higher-than-average, dependable wage, we shifted to a no-tipping model and doubled the hourly rate to more than $30/hr for our service staff,” the rep said. “This shift also benefits our guests, who can enjoy Casa Bonita without incurring unexpected costs. Of our 256 employees, 93 were a part of the shift and a total of 2 were unhappy about it.”
The “South Park” creators explained their purchase and the aftermath during an interview with The New York Times in May.
“It doesn’t stink like chlorine anymore,” Stone said. “We could have rebuilt this twice as big, for half as much money, but we spent so much restoring it, like a piece of art. And the food is excellent.”
Tipping has been a hot topic of debate for decades, especially now that more businesses, including coffee shops, grocery stores, and fast casual dining establishments, have been prompting customers for tips.