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Tom's Diner reopens as Tom's Starlight Lounge, ending years of drama around historic building's future

New lounge reflects desert chic Palm Springs-style poolside bar
Tom's Diner reopens as Tom's Starlight Lounge
Posted at 7:02 PM, Sep 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-29 00:31:24-04

DENVER — Take a stroll through the redeveloped Tom’s Starlight Cocktail Lounge, and you pick up a unique vibe.

“You’re going to feel like a VIP when you walk in, I promise you,” said owner Tom Messina.

Think desert chic Palm Springs-style poolside oasis.

“I think we nailed it. I mean, it’s like a living room out there,” Messina said, pointing to several lounging areas out back. “Why would you not want to sit and have a cocktail?”

With its retro roofline and iconic bar, Tom’s on Colfax has undergone a reimagining and is ready for its reawakening.

“Turned the diner into a bar,” Messina said.

But getting here has been a bit of a bumpy road. You’ll recall Messina wanted to sell the building and retire a few years ago, but a neighborhood group fought the sale, arguing the building should be preserved under historic landmark designation.

“I’m here in opposition to the landmark application for this building,” Messina said during a 2019 hearing.

Messina, ultimately, won that battle, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and everything shut down. Now, he’s found a new partner.

The owner decided to take the space in a completely different direction with outdoor cabanas, lounging areas, fire pits and a walk-up bar.

“You feel like you’re at a Miami bar. I mean, you just feel like you’re on vacation,” Messina said. “I just got more and more motivated, and here’s the end result.”

Inside, there’s been a total overhaul, as well, with a cocktail lounge and bar.

“I wanted that lobby feel,” Messina said. “You know, when you’re in a lobby, in a hotel and you just want to have a cocktail.”

The bar reflects its mid-century modern history with a flare of contemporary – and what was supposed to be his retirement is now Tom’s next chapter as a business owner.

“I was ready for my golden years, if you will,” Messina said. “Call it good luck, bad luck, whatever. This project came in front of me, and it was so exciting. And I promise when people walk in, they’re going to feel that wow factor.”

To take a virtual stroll through Tom's Starlight Cocktail Lounge, click here.