News Release

Revamped Tom's Diner to Rise Again

GBX Group LLC and project partners announce plans for a revamped Tom's Diner

DENVERNov. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The much-anticipated Tom's Diner redevelopment is beginning to take shape. The Denver staple, situated on 601 E Colfax Avenue, will receive a revamp while retaining the building and the appeal of its original architecture.

Cleveland-based GBX Group LLC, in partnership with Denver Land Company, long-time owner Tom Messina, and Denver-based architectural design and planning firm KEPHART, submitted a Zoning Permit with Special Exemption (ZPSE) this week to the City of Denver to revitalize and build off of the original design set in place in 1967. 

The project will not only revitalize the original design but build off the now historic White Spot building that was designed in 1967 by nationally recognized architecture firm, Armét & Davis.

Lead project designer and president of Docomomo Colorado, Josh Robinson, adds that he and the team are utilizing Armét & Davis's modernist approach to design as a vehicle for adaptive reuse, "respecting and continuing the original design concept of the building, while simultaneously bringing it into the 21st century. When completed, it will create a new experience for Denver while truly providing an honest link to its past."

"The reinvention of Tom's Diner will both capture its unique design and incorporate new elements that recognize the market evolution over the years," added Taylor Turano of Denver Land Company. "It will feature a menu of American fare and full-bar service and make use of the outdoor space with lively events, music, private cabanas, and party spaces. The concept is somewhat unique and follows the lead of several other blended-use venues popping up across the US."

Once thought headed for demolition, the landmark eatery found new life through an introduction by Historic Denver to GBX and Messina early in 2019. Through their collaboration, the building will be protected and gained a spot on the National Register of Historic Places late last year.

Specializing in preserving historic real estate through federal and state tax credits, preservation easements, and other means, GBX was previously involved in protecting the nearby historic George Schleier Mansion and recognized the potential in the diner from the start.

"Tom's Diner, with its history, architecture, and legacy in the Denver community, presents an ideal opportunity for redevelopment," explained David Swentor, President of Real Estate at GBX. "You can't readily manufacture properties with this type of meaning and cultural ties to their surrounding neighborhoods. Opportunities like these are why GBX does what it does. We have a chance to simultaneously protect the history of this beloved hotspot and breathe new life into the area that will potentially spur future developments with long-lasting, positive economic impacts."

Tom Messina couldn't be happier with the plans.

"When I started this project, I was visualizing a kind of an oasis in the middle of the city," said Messina. "Something that wouldn't make you feel like you were in the middle of a concrete jungle. We want to use the entire property; it will be special."

Messina, who closed the restaurant due to the COVID-19 Pandemic in March, sees a future in the rethought design.

"Now, with the way the world is, it seems like we're spot on here with the future of hospitality with the open space, private cabanas, and seating areas to keep groups safe," Messina said.

Over the next several weeks and months, preconstruction preparation will continue, including the submission of final plans to the City of Denver and the Colorado Historical Foundation. Further refinement of the venue concept, menus, and branding will also occur. Most important to Denver and the surrounding community will be job creation, added payrolls, and taxes generated through the economics of construction and ongoing business operations.

As these final preconstruction milestones are crossed, they will be shared.

As published on PRNewswire:

Conceptual Site Plan Image Courtesy of KEPHART community / planning / architecture

Conceptual Model Image Courtesy of KEPHART community / planning / architecture

Street Level Elevation Image Courtesy of KEPHART community / planning / architecture