Casa Bonita pays employees to perform community service during renovation period – CBS Denver

(CBS4) – While Casa Bonita remains closed for renovations, the iconic restaurant and entertainment spot for Lakewood workers remains busy. Since November, several dozen employees have been paid to serve the Denver metro area community full-time.

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Waiting for a helping hand stretched dozens of cars deep in the parking lot of the Presentation of Our Lady Church in southwest Denver on Tuesday. For hours, Oscar Anguiano and other volunteers from We Don’t Waste, a nonprofit that collects unused food and distributes it around Denver, brought box after box of non-perishable food to those in need.

“What I love about this particular organization is that the gratification comes almost instantly,” Anguiano said. “You can instantly see how you are helping people.”

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While most of the people working with the association are volunteering, a handful of people wearing pink Casa Bonita hoodies are there. They are among 42 employees paid to give back to the community as the Denver-area landmark gets a makeover from new owners and Comedy Central’s “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone

“I love it,” Anguiano said. “It’s a different feeling to give back to the community while I’m still employed.”

We Don’t Waste is one of five local charities where Casa Bonita’s chefs, servers and dishwashers now work full-time. Other organizations include Habitat ReStores, the Action Center, Project Angel Heart and SAME Café.

“Having a group of people you can consistently rely on every day is invaluable because we don’t have to train them every day,” said Arlan Preblud, Founder and Executive Director of We Don’t Waste. “They come to us. They know the routines, they work with us, they’re very engaged with us and that’s great.

For employees like Anguiano, it’s a welcome settlement after almost two years of uncertainty. He worked for the restaurant before its previous owners declared bankruptcy and will return to work as soon as it reopens under new management.

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“I don’t know when we’re going to get back to work,” he said. “We are very happy to go back and see what they want to change and what they are doing.”

Employees will continue to work with community groups until the restaurant is ready to reopen. They hope to reopen in late summer or early fall 2022.

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Norma P. Rex