Owners Tom Miszewski and his wife, Mari Ellis, opened their namesake coffee shop (Tom + Mari = Tomari) in January 2017. Before they bought the building, it had been abandoned for more than seven years. The couple's house is three miles up the road and, as Ellis tells it, “We would drive by the empty building and comment to each other, ‘Somebody ought to do something.’”
The building had once been a convenience store and gas station owned by Evergreen Oil before falling into disrepair. On the night that Miszewski and Ellis took ownership of the property, they had a cocktail there to celebrate. While talking about his renovation ideas, Miszewski fell through the floor and halfway into the basement. That’s when the two realized what bad shape the building was in and just how much work it needed to get up to code.
Both Ellis and Miszewski were in the financial business and quit that life to open the shop.“There’s so much compromise to who you are in order to be a corporate person,” says Ellis. “There’s a lot of money that comes along with it, but you give up a lot, too.” For the couple, time was one thing they didn’t want to give up any longer. They’ve lived in Morrison for thirteen years, and they used to drive an hour each way to Aurora for work. Their commute to work today is just seven minutes. “Life is a lot simpler now,” says Ellis. “We don’t have money to burn, but we work shoulder to shoulder. And we feel like we’re making a difference.”
In this area, it’s not uncommon to see more wildlife than humans. One bear was chased out of town by the Tiny Town sheriff and not once, but twice, bears have eaten Miszewski’s chickens from his coop. Most human neighbors are friendly, however, and make up the majority of Tomari’s customers.
General manager Zach Green applied for the position after seeing it in the newspaper; he was hired sight unseen. Both Green and the shop’s other employee make the commute from Denver each day; they say the drive doesn’t feel very far going against the rush.
In addition to classic coffee drinks with beans sourced from Pablo’s, the shop offers affogatos with Lik's ice cream, pastries and sweets from “Carolyn the baker," burritos from “Kevin the burrito guy” and a selection of grab-and-go items such as sandwiches and salads. “It used to be a convenience store," Miszewski says. "We want it to be a coffee shop with convenience.”