The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Fl’s Oldest Restaurant Produces a Beautiful Background To Suit Your Passionate Times

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  • 07/08/2022

The brief variation: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant features served Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and drinks that represent a long-standing genealogy and family history. Established by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains an area preferred because of its conventional foods and personable solution. Through the years, folks from worldwide attended to the glamorous restaurant to celebrate involvements, anniversaries, birthdays, as well as meet other bisexual females monumental times. Now, the 4th and fifth years of the family owns and works 13 various restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for okay dining with a good conventional family feel, you can easily reserve a table into the stunning and enchanting eating rooms for the Columbia Restaurant.


Over the past 30 years, my children’s favorite destination has become an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Florida. We have gone here over 12 occasions to construct sand castles, place dolphins, and consume tasty meals on patios ignoring the Gulf of Mexico.

We completely explored the town’s cafe choice, searching from greatest regional bones around, but it only therefore takes place that one cafe all of us enjoy many is within walking distance of our hotel. The Columbia eatery’s white linen tablecloths, conscious service, and mouth-watering food ensure it is our go-to area for lunch.

When we were young ones, my personal parents would get you a mozzarella cheese pizza pie even though they checked out this romantic Spanish restaurant alone; but we have now enjoy tapas and wine equally as much as they would, so we’ve started crashing their date night — occasionally bringing along times of our own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world atmosphere. Though itis the earliest restaurant in Fl, the business enterprise is still operated by the descendants regarding the initial founder. Every item regarding the menu provides a story behind it, and many on the recipes are handed over from one generation of this Hernandez Gonzmart household to a higher. Family members practice is an enormous a portion of the Columbia’s selection, background, and way of solution.

“The staff is some like household,” said Michael Kilgore, the Chief advertising Officer for the Columbia. “Many of our employees stay for 20 or 30 years. Among circumstances we like about our class is actually just how long they stay with you. They come here in order to find a house.”

You may enjoy this comfortable and inviting environment on your own then night out when you go to any one of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant presently serves guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and party. Whether you are drinking drink on a picturesque balcony or viewing flamenco performers illuminate the stage while you take in tapas, you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable evening on Columbia.

In 1905, a Cuban Immigrant went a Saloon That Became a Sensation

The Columbia Restaurant can locate their history to Dec. 17, 1903 — similar day the Wright brothers effectively tried the planet’s very first airplane. That has been whenever a Cuban immigrant known as Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started working a saloon for a regional brewing organization in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person switched the saloon into popular 60-seat cafe recognized for its real Cuban coffee-and sandwiches. After their success, Casimiro ordered a restaurant next door and changed it into a striking kitchen. In 1930, their daughter took more than possession and operation of flourishing bistro.

Through the Great Depression, their daughter Casimiro Jr. built the most important air-conditioned living area in Tampa. The guy hoped their upscale appearance and raised dancing flooring would draw men and women to the cafe that assist all of them forget about their worries for per night. The Don Quixote Room was a hit, as well as the Columbia managed to keep their doors available while many different businesses collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia to their sole son or daughter, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an established musician who had fulfilled her partner, Cesar Gonzmart, from the Tampa bistro. This theatrical pair delivered enjoyment and art to your Columbia, setting up a showroom that managed numerous talented Latin dancers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s management, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota along with other places in Fl.

These days, one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and held his family’s company going. Richard Gonzmart has been operating at his family’s restaurants since he had been 12 yrs old, so he’s intimately acquainted with their atmosphere and background. Richard may actually point out the table during the Columbia eatery in which the guy along with his wife had their basic time significantly more than 43 years back.

“there’s lots of relationship here, and then we have a great tale,” mentioned Michael. “Less than 15 restaurants in the usa tend to be family-owned and most a century old, therefore we’re in pretty elite business.”

Florida’s earliest bistro has actually a proud and enduring background grounded on meals, family, and enjoyable. Michael told you the fifth generation associated with the founding family members is now being groomed to take-over eventually. Richard’s daughters and nephew have chosen to take in productive control parts from the restaurants and are also willing to maintain the household tradition choosing many others many years to come.

The Columbia happens to be recognized with a few for the greatest honors in restaurant business, including induction into Nation’s eatery News’ “good food Hall of popularity,” gained the “Distinguished Restaurants of North America (SiRoNA) honor of Excellence,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “better of Award of quality.”

Look In! A Delectable Menu of Sharable Tapas & Indulgent Desserts

The Columbia eatery establishes a luxurious table and a wonderful getting away from everyday activity. It seduces your sensory faculties as soon as you walk in the doorways. You’re enclosed by greenery, water fountains, and artwork because the noise of laughter and also the smells of fresh fish meals waft through the atmosphere. Before my purchase even extends to me personally, my personal mouth area is often watering with anticipation. Luckily, each guest gets his or her own freshly produced loaf of Cuban breads, therefore I have actually one thing to satisfy my personal tastebuds while I wait.

The 14-page eating plan is filled with great food but supplies effortless talk starters for daters merely learning the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert has an enticing explanation plus fascinating background information. As an instance, the cafe’s coconut ice cream had been a well liked of ice cream business owner Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd son of the initial Columbia creator, and today this sweet meal is actually offered in the respect.

From veggie paella (Spanish rice combined with hearty veggies) to your shrimp great (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the foods within Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable plates, labeled as tapas, get this restaurant ideal for couples on a night out together since you will come better together by sharing tiny dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. You can easily make a budget-friendly food by purchasing multiple of the appetizers together — remember to save lots of area for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros could be an excellent choice for partners since they are tactile, nice, and just a little dirty. You’ll dip the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s something for all. Positive, Columbia’s trademark White Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent treat excellent for splitting with a date that a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler web log known as the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s top date-night spots, promoting couples to “begin with Columbia’s well-known 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, immediately after which discuss an enormous plate associated with Paella a la Valenciana, filled with shellfish, aromatic rice, and chorizo.”

Your own enchanting night will be all the greater number of satisfying in the event that you pair with your meal one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a refreshing drink known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and wife.

Plus, in the Columbia Restaurant, the sangria is perish for. Severely, referring because of the cup but you can also split a pitcher of white or red-colored sangria with a night out together to enhance your own dinner knowledge. Generously large pieces of fruit float for the wine and infuse it with rich tastes. Whether you are purchasing this classic sangria or among restaurant’s family members wines, the high-caliber beverages dont disappoint.

Michael told us the group can make an attempt to provide inexpensive however top quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “All of our wine variety must completely fitted to the food we provide along with your cost,” he said.

Countless partners & groups have actually Shared particular times Here

When In my opinion of Columbia, I think associated with the evening we chose to have treat for lunch, and my moms and dads ordered churros, key lime pie, mango mousse cake, white chocolate loaves of bread dessert, and five spoons. In my opinion of my twin brother trying grouper the very first time on our very own twentieth birthday celebration and stating excitedly, “just take my personal picture” because the guy planned to program their girlfriend (who is now their partner) which he loved taking fish just as much as she performed.

In many steps, the Columbia is like all of our spot, but my family is not the only real household getting made thoughts during that bistro and its particular six sister areas across Fl. Individuals come to the restaurant anyway phases of existence because it provides a particular environment that pairs well with any function.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were regular guests for the Columbia in the early 1950s. The Columbia staff settled tribute toward few together with loving thoughts they shared within restaurant by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin guidelines, boneless chicken, shrimp, and chicken — is a tasty note from the long reputation for romance for the Columbia’s eating rooms.

Whether you’re happening a first date or remembering a marriage anniversary, you will discover intimacy and passion achieve the soft candlelight associated with the Columbia Restaurant.

“It is one of the targets,” Michael mentioned, “having men and women feel as if the Columbia is the perfect place to come to commemorate existence’s milestones.”

The Columbia eatery has household Values into Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with authentic meals, divine atmospheres, and friendly solution. The hosts, at the very least at the Columbia in Sand Key, focus on their unique friends and are also rapid to express “Welcome back” to devoted clients just who, like my family, find themselves going back to the stylish eating rooms over repeatedly.

This long-standing food business features grown and altered through the years, but it has never disregarded its century-long family members sources. Richard has actually committed intends to serve diners and daters throughout Florida inside a long time. “All of our owner does not rest,” Michael stated with a laugh. “He’s always dreaming upwards new things.”

The Columbia team intends to start at least two new restaurants for the following years. One will end up being conveniently located appropriate across the street from the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to open up in autumn 2018, will pay homage to a tiny town in Sicily in which a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants came from — the real selection aims to deliver these people a delicious indication of home.

Enduring management and top quality styles make the Columbia Restaurant and all sorts of their cousin restaurants truly remarkable locations where singles and partners can spend a night in the company of those they like finest.


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