Reader: Get Ready for Hipsters to Complain About What Replaces Tom's Diner

Reader: Get Ready for Hipsters to Complain About What Replaces Tom's Diner
Brandon Marshall
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At this time last year, the hottest restaurant topic in town was the fate of Tom's Diner, whose owner had applied for a certificate of non-historic status for the property at 601 East Colfax Avenue with Denver’s Landmark Preservation Commission. Fans of classic Googie architecture, not to mention the history of Colfax Avenue itself, were quick to complain, and some filed a counter-application to have the circa 1967 coffee shop declared historic.

The standoff ended in a last-second win-win: A history-friendly developer, GBX Group, stepped in, and owner Tom Messina, who'd run the diner for two decades, got to sell the property in anticipation of retiring. The Tom's Diner building is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and the structure will be worked into any new development on the property.

But while Messina had hoped to run the restaurant into this summer, it turns out that when Tom's Diner closed with the rest of Denver's restaurants in March, it closed for good.

Says Randall:

 After all that fuss!!!

Adds Zach: 

That worked out well. An empty, unremarkable structure best used as a greasy spoon instead of more living space in the most densely populated area of the city.

Suggests Justin: 

File this under "Mismanaging our history."

Responds Rory: 

Interesting choice of words. The building actually made the national historical building registry.

Replies Jesse:

 Now they need to get rid of the historic status and tear the diner down and put in a park.

Comments Holly: 

Glad Tom got to sell and retire off the business he built and worked so hard on for decades, despite the disgusting, selfish protesters that tried to take over and ruin his ability to decide the fate of HIS business out of nothing more than their pathetic need for “nostalgia.” God forbid Tom get to enjoy the fruits of his labor and have a little something to retire on and leave to his family.

Adds Nicholas: 

Did anyone that protested Tom's initial selling, ever put together a fundraiser to buy the building themselves, or did they just say “building is an icon, you can only sell it in a way that is approved by us!”? I was born in Denver, I love the architecture, but I love property rights more.

Notes Heather: 

What a complement to build a business that becomes an icon! Glad the building will stay. Hopefully a sustainable reuse will be made.

Recalls John: 

Nowhere else could you get a thick grilled cheese and fries for $7. Whatever goes there will probably have the same sandwich but charge double.

Concludes Greg: 

Get ready for all the people who wanted Tom's to stay to complain when an overpriced hipster restaurant they can't afford opens there.

The property is currently fenced off for security while the GBX Group continues to make plans. "Tom was planning on winding down the Diner in June, and with the onset of COVID-19, that moved the date up," the new owner explains.

Did you eat at Tom's Diner? What all-night place are you missing? Post a comment or email editorial@westword.com.

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