The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Fl’s Oldest Eatery Produces a Beautiful Backdrop For The Passionate Moments

The Quick Version: Since 1905, the Columbi male chat roomsa eatery has served Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and drinks that express a long-standing family history. Launched by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia continues to be a nearby preferred because of its conventional meals and personable service. Through the years, people from all over the world have come for the attractive restaurant to celebrate involvements, anniversaries, birthdays, and other monumental times. Nowadays, the next and fifth years in the family has and works 13 various restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re looking for good eating with a decent traditional family members experience, you’ll reserve a table during the spectacular and enchanting dinner spaces with the Columbia eatery.


Over the past thirty years, my family’s favored destination has-been an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Florida. We have gone indeed there over a dozen occasions to create sand castles, place dolphins, and consume delicious dinners on patios ignoring the gulf.

There is thoroughly explored the town’s bistro choice, looking the actual most useful local bones around, nonetheless it simply therefore occurs that the one cafe most of us enjoy the majority of is within taking walks range in our resort. The Columbia eatery’s white-linen tablecloths, conscious solution, and mouth-watering meals allow it to be our go-to place for dinner.

Whenever we had been young ones, my personal parents would get united states a mozzarella cheese pizza as they went to this passionate Spanish bistro alone; however, we have now enjoy tapas and drink just as much while they perform, therefore we’ve started crashing their unique date night — sometimes taking along times of one’s very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has actually wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world atmosphere. Even though itis the oldest restaurant in Fl, the business enterprise remains operate of the descendants from the original founder. Every object regarding selection provides a tale behind it, and many in the meals have-been passed from one generation associated with the Hernandez Gonzmart family to another location. Household custom is a huge area of the Columbia’s menu, record, and method of solution.

“the employees can be some like family members,” mentioned Michael Kilgore, the principle promotion Officer when it comes to Columbia. “Many of our employees remain for 20 or 3 decades. Among the things we like about the team is just how long they stick to you. They arrive here in order to find a home.”

You may enjoy this comfy and inviting environment on the subsequent night out when you go to any of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant presently serves friends in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you’re sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or viewing flamenco performers illuminate the stage although you eat tapas, you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable evening at Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can locate its record returning to Dec. 17, 1903 — equivalent time the Wright brothers effectively tested the entire world’s first aircraft. Which was whenever a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started running a saloon for a regional brewing company in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person switched the saloon into popular 60-seat cafe known for their genuine Cuban coffee-and sandwiches. After his achievements, Casimiro bought a cafe or restaurant across the street and changed it into a striking kitchen. In 1930, their daughter took over control and operation with the thriving restaurant.

Through the Great anxiety, their daughter Casimiro Jr. created the most important air-conditioned living area in Tampa. He hoped their upscale appearance and raised dancing flooring would draw visitors to the bistro and help all of them forget about their own fears for a night. The Don Quixote Room had been popular, in addition to Columbia surely could hold its doorways open even though many other businesses collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia to his just son or daughter, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an established artist who’d came across her spouse, Cesar Gonzmart, during the Tampa bistro. This theatrical pair brought entertainment and artistry into the Columbia, setting up a showroom that hosted many talented Latin performers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s authority, the Columbia extended to Sarasota and various other locations in Florida.

These days, certainly one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has had the reins and held his family members’ business heading. Richard Gonzmart has become operating at their family members’ restaurants since he had been 12 yrs . old, thus he or she is thoroughly knowledgeable about the atmosphere and history. Richard can suggest the table within Columbia eatery in which he and his awesome girlfriend had their own basic go out a lot more than 43 years back.

“there are many relationship right here, therefore have a great tale,” stated Michael. “lower than 15 restaurants in the United States are family-owned and more than a century outdated, therefore we’re in pretty elite business.”

Fl’s oldest cafe has actually a proud and enduring record grounded on meals, family members, and enjoyable. Michael told you the fifth generation of founding family members happens to be becoming groomed to take control one-day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have taken in energetic management roles during the restaurants and are also prepared keep your household tradition opting for many others a long time.

The Columbia happens to be recognized with many of the highest awards inside the bistro sector, including induction into Nation’s eatery News’ “Fine eating Hall of popularity,” won the “notable Restaurants of America (SiRoNA) honor of quality,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “Best of honor of quality.”

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

The Columbia eatery sets a lavish table and offers an enjoyable escape from every day life. It seduces your sensory faculties as soon as you walk-in the doorways. You are enclosed by greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork since sounds of fun and also the scents of new fish meals waft through environment. Before my personal order actually gets to me, my mouth is often watering with anticipation. Luckily for us, each visitor gets their own freshly made loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, thus I have something to meet my personal preferences while I wait.

The 14-page selection is filled with great food but supplies effortless conversation beginners for daters just getting to know the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat boasts an enticing explanation and additionally fascinating history info. Such as, the cafe’s coconut ice-cream had been a preferred of ice-cream entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd boy with the original Columbia president, and after this this nice plate is actually supported inside the respect.

Through the veggie paella (Spanish grain mixed with satisfying vegetables) to the shrimp great (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the foodstuffs on Columbia are bursting with taste. The shareable dishes, called tapas, make this restaurant suitable for lovers on a night out together since you will come better collectively by discussing tiny dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. You can create a budget-friendly food by ordering multiple among these appetizers together — just remember to save lots of room for treat!

The Très Amigos churros would be an excellent selection for couples since they are tactile, sweet, and just a tiny bit dirty. Possible drop the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s a little for all. Positive, Columbia’s signature White Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent dessert ideal for splitting with a night out together having a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler weblog known as the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night spots, encouraging partners to “start off with Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, immediately after which share a huge plate from the Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, fragrant grain, and chorizo.”

Your enchanting evening will be all the greater pleasurable any time you pair with your dinner one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, an abundant drink known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and spouse.

Plus, at the Columbia Restaurant, the sangria is always to die for. Severely, it comes down from the cup you could additionally separate a pitcher of white or reddish sangria with a date to increase your dining experience. Nicely huge slices of fresh fruit float in drink and infuse it with rich styles. Whether you’re buying this traditional sangria or one of many restaurant’s family wines, the high-caliber beverages cannot let you down.

Michael informed united states the group tends to make an endeavor to supply affordable however high quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “All of our drink choice must completely suited to the meal we provide as well as your selling price,” the guy said.

Countless partners & households have actually Shared specialized times Here

When i do believe from the Columbia, i believe with the evening we made a decision to have dessert for dinner, and my moms and dads bought churros, key lime pie, mango mousse cake, white candy bread pudding, and five spoons. I do believe of my twin-brother attempting grouper for the first time on the twentieth birthday celebration and claiming excitedly, “get my personal photo” because he wanted to program their girl (who’s today their partner) he loved eating fish whenever she performed.

In plenty techniques, the Columbia feels as though our destination, but my children isn’t really truly the only family members for generated recollections at the restaurant and its particular six sister places across Florida. People reach the cafe after all phases of life since it supplies a particular atmosphere that pairs well with any event.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be regular friends for the Columbia in the early 1950s. The Columbia staff members settled tribute on the pair in addition to loving memories they shared at the restaurant by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed combination of tenderloin recommendations, boneless chicken breast, shrimp, and chicken — is actually a tasty reminder of very long history of romance inside the Columbia’s dining spaces.

Whether you are taking place a first date or celebrating a wedding anniversary, you’ll find intimacy and enthusiasm flourish in the comfortable candlelight of the Columbia eatery.

“It is a goals,” Michael said, “having people feel like the Columbia is the perfect place to get to celebrate life’s milestones.”

The Columbia Restaurant offers household standards towards the Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with authentic dishes, divine atmospheres, and friendly service. The hosts, about at our very own Columbia in Sand Key, pay attention to their own visitors and are rapid to say “Welcome straight back” to loyal clients who, like my loved ones, are returning to the classy dining spaces over and over.

This long-standing dining institution features expanded and changed through the many years, nonetheless it has never forgotten its century-long family members roots. Richard has challenging intends to serve diners and daters throughout Fl for the years into the future. “our very own owner doesn’t rest,” Michael said with a laugh. “he is constantly fantasizing up something new.”

The Columbia team plans to open no less than two brand-new restaurants for the following many years. One will end up being conveniently located right next door through the original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to start in autumn 2018, pay respect to a little town in Sicily in which a majority of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants emerged from — the authentic diet plan aims to deliver these individuals a delicious note of home.

Enduring management and high quality flavors make the Columbia Restaurant and all of their sibling restaurants truly amazing places where singles and couples can invest a night together with those they love most useful.

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