For Denver resident Brenda Geiger, Lakewood's iconic establishment, Casa Bonita, is more than just a restaurant, it's a place with decades full of memories.
It was where she had her first job, and met her best friend Karen, whose life she would ultimately end up saving.
"We lost contact, but years later when she was living in Delaware and I was living in North Carolina, we reconnected and came back to Casa Bonita. A little while later, she ended up needing a liver transplant and I was her donor," Geiger said.
"She told me to come to today's rally and show support for the both of us, because if it weren't for Casa Bonita, she might not be here."
Stories like these and others about "Black Bart's Cave" and the restaurant's crowd-pleasing sopaipillas were shared by around a dozen people of all ages along West Colfax Avenue on Saturday during a "Save Casa Bonita" rally.
Supporters of the restaurant that became famous after being featured in a 2003 episode of "South Park" held signs reading "I have sopaipilla fever," "Save Casa Bonita" and "Next cliff diving show at 2:00?"
During the rally, event organizer and founder of Save Casa Bonita, LLC, Andrew Novick, waved to drivers in an orange Bananas the Monkey suit.
"People really have personal history with Casa Bonita, and none of us want to see it go away," said Novick, who celebrated his 300th visit the the establishment in 2019.
"There is no Denver without Casa Bonita."
Casa Bonita has been closed to the general public for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and its parent company, Summit Family Restaurants, recently filed for bankruptcy.
As a response, Casa Bonita enthusiasts decided to start a GoFundMe page — which has raised over over $47,000 — and host the rally on Saturday.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows businesses and nonprofits to continue operating under current management while developing a plan of reorganization to repay creditors overtime.
But despite the plans of the restaurant to reopen sometime this spring, supporters and organizers want to do everything they can to help a place dear to their hearts, said Christy Kruzick.
"It's super important to us that this building and the history is preserved," Kruzick said while holding a "Save Casa Bonita" sign.
And although many of the supporters don't believe the establishment will ever close for good, the thought itself is too painful.
"The entire city would be in mourning," Geiger said. "So we are here to do everything we can to keep their doors open."