After hearing that Consumer Capital Partners -- the Denver-based investment company that owns Smashburger -- plans to open Tom's Urban 24 Diner at 1460 Larimer Street this fall, Tom Messina, who's owned and operated Tom's Diner at 601 East Colfax Avenue for the past thirteen years, was "a little flattered and a little pissed," he says.
"A builder called me and thought I was expanding," he notes. "That's how I found out. I think a lot of people are going to think it's mine."
But it's not. Like his Tom's, Tom's Urban 24 Diner will be open 24/7 -- but its perch at the edge of Larimer Square, in the former home of Samba Room, bears little resemblance to the Colfax location of Tom's Diner.
"I made some phone calls, but I never patented the name, so there's nothing I can do, really," explains Messina. "I think they'll be gone in two years, anyway. There's not much foot traffic over there and no parking, and besides, being open 24 hours is a whole new element for a restaurant; it becomes its own living, breathing entity."
Consumer Capital Partners says it didn't consider the Tom's on Colfax when it came up with plans for this new, 24-hour diner. "The reason we named it Tom's is because of our chef, Tom Ryan," explains Stacie Lange, a spokeswoman for Consumer Capital. "The concept is inspired by him." (Read Jason Sheehan's article on his visit with Tom Ryan here.)
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Messina insists he isn't too concerned with the coming competition. "From what I understand, it'll be a high-end place place downtown," he points out. "We're a neighborhood spot with loyal customers, so I'm not worried. I wish them well."