The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Florida’s Oldest Restaurant Creates an attractive Backdrop For The Enchanting Times

The Quick type: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually offered Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and products that express a long-standing family history. Created by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains an area favorite simply because of its old-fashioned ingredients and friendly solution. Through the years, individuals from all over the world attended to your attractive restaurant to commemorate involvements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, along with other monumental minutes. Today, the last and 5th generations for the family has and functions 13 various restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re searching for fine dinner with a decent conventional family feel, possible reserve a table into the spectacular and intimate dinner rooms of the Columbia eatery.


Over the past three decades, my loved ones’s favored holiday destination was an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Fl. We’ve eliminated truth be told there over several instances to build sand castles, area dolphins, and eat tasty dinners on patios overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

We thoroughly investigated town’s restaurant selection, looking around from finest neighborhood bones around, it just so takes place that the one restaurant everyone enjoy a lot of is actually within taking walks length of our resort. The Columbia eatery’s white linen tablecloths, mindful service, and mouth-watering food allow our go-to area for supper.

When we happened to be children, my personal moms and dads would order you a cheddar pizza even though they went to this enchanting Spanish bistro by yourself; but we now enjoy tapas and wine as much as they would, therefore we’ve started crashing their own night out — often bringing along times of our very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery provides wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world ambiance. Though it’s the earliest restaurant in Florida, the business enterprise is still operated by the descendants of initial creator. Every object on diet plan has a story behind it, and many in the dishes have already been passed from one generation of Hernandez Gonzmart household to another location. Household custom is an enormous an element of the Columbia’s diet plan, history, and way of solution.

“The staff can a little like family members,” stated Michael Kilgore, the principle promotional Officer for Columbia. “Many of our workers stay for 20 or three decades. The circumstances we love about our group is how much time they stick to united states. They are available here and find property.”

You may enjoy this comfy and inviting environment on the then night out when you go to any one of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant currently serves visitors in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you’re sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or watching flamenco performers illuminate the phase when you take in tapas, you are certain to have a remarkable evening at the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can track their record to Dec. 17, 1903 — alike time the Wright brothers effectively tested globally’s first aircraft. Which was whenever a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began running a saloon for a nearby making organization in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person switched the saloon into a well known 60-seat cafe recognized for their authentic Cuban coffee and sandwiches. Following his achievements, Casimiro purchased a restaurant next door and converted it into an attractive kitchen. In 1930, their daughter took over control and operation of this thriving cafe.

Throughout the Great anxiety, their child Casimiro Jr. built the most important air-conditioned kitchen in Tampa. He hoped their trendy appearance and elevated dance floor would draw individuals to the cafe that assist them forget their unique worries for every night. The Don Quixote place had been a hit, additionally the Columbia managed to keep their doors open while many different companies folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto their only kid, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an experienced musician who’d met her husband, Cesar Gonzmart, during the Tampa restaurant. This theatrical set delivered entertainment and art into the Columbia, developing a showroom that hosted numerous skilled Latin dancers and musicians. Under Adela and Cesar’s authority, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota as well as other places in Florida.

Nowadays, one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has had the reins and held their family’s business going. Richard Gonzmart was operating at their family’s restaurants since he had been 12 yrs old, very he could be closely familiar with its environment and record. Richard can actually point to the dining table at the Columbia eatery where the guy and his partner had their particular first big date a lot more than 43 in years past.

“there’s lots of relationship right here, and now we have a good story,” said Michael. “under 15 restaurants in the usa tend to be family-owned and most 100 years outdated, therefore we’re in pretty elite business.”

Fl’s earliest cafe features a pleased and enduring history rooted in meals, family, and fun. Michael told you the 5th generation of this founding household is getting groomed to take-over one-day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have chosen to take in effective control parts at restaurants and are usually ready to keep carefully the household tradition going for a lot more many years to come.

The Columbia might acknowledged with some in the greatest prizes in cafe business, including induction into country’s eatery News’ “good food Hall of popularity,” obtained the “Distinguished Restaurants of united states (SiRoNA) Award of Excellence,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “good honor of quality.”

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

The Columbia Restaurant establishes a magnificent dining table and a delightful getting away from daily life. It seduces your sensory faculties as soon as you walk-in the doorways. You are surrounded by greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork as sounds of laughter therefore the smells of new fish and shellfish dishes waft through the atmosphere. Before my personal order actually extends to myself, my personal lips is always watering with expectation. Luckily for us, each guest will get his or her own freshly generated loaf of Cuban bread, and so I have actually something you should please my preferences while we wait.

The 14-page menu is filled with great food additionally provides simple conversation beginners for daters simply getting to know the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert comes with an enticing explanation as well as interesting back ground details. For example, the restaurant’s coconut ice-cream had been a preferred of ice-cream business person Gustavo Hernandez, the third son on the initial Columbia president, and today this sweet plate is served within his respect.

From the vegetarian paella (Spanish grain mixed with hearty vegetables) toward shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foods at the Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable dishes, also known as tapas, make this restaurant perfect for partners on a date since you may come closer together by sharing little plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. To generate a budget-friendly meal by buying many among these appetizers with each other — just remember to truly save area for treat!

The Très Amigos churros could be an excellent option for partners because they’re tactile, nice, and simply somewhat messy. You can dip the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s a little for everybody. Additionally, Columbia’s signature light Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent dessert perfect for splitting with a romantic date who’s a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site called the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night areas, promoting couples to “start off with Columbia’s well-known 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, and then discuss a massive platter associated with the Paella a la Valenciana, full of shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo.”

Your intimate evening will be-all the greater number of enjoyable should you combine with your food a glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a refreshing wine known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and spouse.

Plus, in the Columbia Restaurant, the sangria should perish for. Severely, it comes down because of the cup you could additionally separate a pitcher of white or purple sangria with a night out together to boost your own dining experience. Generously large cuts of fresh fruit float within the wine and infuse it with rich styles. Whether you’re purchasing this traditional sangria or among the many restaurant’s family wines, the high-caliber drinks don’t disappoint.

Michael informed us the team makes an endeavor to offer inexpensive yet high quality wines to whet guests’ appetites. “Our drink variety must certanly be perfectly designed for the meals we serve and your selling price,” he mentioned.

Countless partners & households Have Shared particular Moments Here

When In my opinion for the Columbia, I think of this night we chose to have treat for lunch, and my moms and dads ordered churros, crucial lime pie, mango mousse dessert, white chocolate breads dessert, and five spoons. I think of my personal twin-brother attempting grouper the very first time on all of our 20th birthday and saying excitedly, “get my personal image” because the guy wished to program their girlfriend (that’s now their girlfriend) he liked eating fish up to she did.

In numerous steps, the Columbia feels as though our place, but my family is not truly the only household getting made thoughts at the cafe and its six sister locations across Florida. Men and women come to the restaurant after all stages of existence given that it provides a unique environment that sets really with any party.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were regular guests of the Columbia in the early 1950s. The Columbia team settled tribute towards the few in addition to enjoying thoughts they contributed at bistro by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed blend of tenderloin guidelines, boneless chicken, shrimp, and pork — is a delicious indication from the extended history of romance into the Columbia’s eating rooms.

Whether you’re taking place an initial go out or remembering a marriage anniversary, you’ll find intimacy and enthusiasm flourish in the gentle candlelight of Columbia eatery.

“its one of our targets,” Michael mentioned, “to possess folks feel as if the Columbia is the place to get to commemorate existence’s goals.”

The Columbia Restaurant offers household Values for the Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with genuine dishes, divine atmospheres, and friendly service. The servers, at least at our very own Columbia in Sand Key, watch their own visitors and so are quick to state “Welcome right back” to dedicated consumers exactly who, like my loved ones, end up time for the stylish eating rooms time and again.

This long-standing food establishment provides grown and altered in the decades, nonetheless it has not forgotten about their century-long household sources. Richard has actually bold intentions to offer diners and daters throughout Florida from inside the a long time. “our very own owner doesn’t rest,” Michael mentioned with a laugh. “He’s always thinking up something totally new.”

The Columbia staff plans to start at the least two brand new restaurants in following years. One will be easily positioned right next door from the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to start in autumn 2018, are going to pay honor to a little town in Sicily in which a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the genuine diet plan aims to bring these households a tasty reminder of home.

Enduring authority and quality styles improve Columbia Restaurant as well as their sibling restaurants really remarkable spots where singles and lovers can spend a night with those they love finest.