For more than 40 years, the legendary Casa Bonita has reigned over Lakewood with its pink tower façade and gold-leafed dome. More than 500,000 diners a year visit the icon for Mexican fare and an array of kitsch that includes Acapulco-style cliff divers, puppet shows, gift shops, and arcade games. So many tourists have visited in fact, that the restaurant has been named one of the country’s top 10 roadside attractions. The JCRS Shopping Center that surrounds it, however, hasn’t enjoyed the same success.
Broad Street Realty LLC, a development group that purchased the lifeless property last spring, will give it a much-needed overhaul. Although Casa Bonita will remain untouched, Broad Street has changed the complex’s name to the Lamar Station Plaza, and the group has already added a new WestFax Brewing Company, a Planet Fitness, the 40 West Arts District galleries (which serves as headquarters for the Lakewood Arts Council), and even a year-round farmers’ market.
To spearhead the yet-to-be-named farmers’ market, the LLC enlisted the help of Barbara Moore, the executive director of Harvest Mountain Farm Gardens and an adjunct faculty member who teaches courses in food fundamentals and urban gardening at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Moore is currently seeking a manager for the project who combines a strong business background with an understanding of farming and local farmers. “Since [the market] will be an indoor/outdoor kind of concept,” Moore says, “We’ll need to feature stalls of local producers and supplement them with some produce that we hope to grow on our own, on-site.” Moore envisions the use of eight foot by 20 foot mobile storage containers to be utilized as indoor growing facilities to help supplement the seasonal produce in the winter months. She also sees bringing in products from neighboring states. “We’ll start small by opening outside on May 20, 2015, just from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, with a few stalls representing farms like Circle Fresh, Everitt Farms, Miller Farms, and Colorado Fresh. Then we’ll build on the skill set of our manager to eventually occupy 1,800 square feet of available space and fill the market inside with fresh produce, meats, jams, baked, goods, and other products that really represent the local area. We’d like to be as specialized as Marczyk’s or Tony’s markets but with more of a local focus and appeal.” Adding entertainment, children’s attractions, and educational programs are also part of the vision of a place that could become a key centerpiece for the Lakewood area.
Tip: If all goes well, the market eventually plans to be open year-round, six days a week for eight hours a day.
Lamar Station Plaza, West Colfax Avenue Between Lamar and Pierce, Lakewood