The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Fl’s Oldest Eatery Creates a Beautiful Backdrop To Suit Your Passionate Times

The Quick type: Since 1905, the Columbia eatery provides served Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and beverages that signify a long-standing family history. Founded by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains a regional favorite due to its traditional meals and friendly service. Over time, folks from all over the world have come towards attractive restaurant to commemorate involvements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, alongside monumental moments. Now, the 4th and 5th years in the household owns and operates 13 different restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re looking for good dining with a decent old-fashioned family experience, you are able to reserve a table within the spectacular and intimate eating rooms in the Columbia Restaurant.


For the past three decades, my children’s favored vacation destination has become an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Florida. We’ve gone indeed there over several occasions to construct mud castles, place dolphins, and eat tasty meals on patios overlooking the gulf.

We’ve got thoroughly explored town’s restaurant selection, looking out the most useful regional joints about, however it only so happens that the one cafe we-all enjoy a lot of is within strolling range of our own hotel. The Columbia eatery’s white linen tablecloths, conscious service, and mouth-watering food succeed all of our go-to area for lunch.

When we happened to be kids, my personal parents would purchase you a parmesan cheese pizza as they visited this romantic Spanish restaurant alone; however, we currently enjoy tapas and drink equally as much as they carry out, so we’ve begun crashing their night out — occasionally delivering along times of one’s own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world atmosphere. Though itis the earliest bistro in Florida, the business enterprise remains operate because of the descendants regarding the initial creator. Every product in the menu has a story behind it, and many for the dishes have now been passed from one generation for the Hernandez Gonzmart family to a higher. Family heritage is a large part of the Columbia’s selection, history, and way of solution.

“The staff is also slightly like family,” mentioned Michael Kilgore, the Chief Marketing Officer for all the Columbia. “quite a few staff members stay for 20 or 30 years. One of many things we like about the party is the length of time they stick with united states. They come here and locate a property.”

You may enjoy this comfy and pleasant environment on the subsequent night out by visiting any one of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia eatery at this time serves guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and party. Whether you are sipping wine on a picturesque balcony or watching flamenco dancers light the period even though you take in tapas, you’re sure to have a remarkable evening in the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can trace the background returning to Dec. 17, 1903 — the same time the Wright brothers successfully tried the whole world’s very first plane. That has been whenever a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started operating a saloon for a regional brewing business in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious entrepreneur turned the saloon into a well known 60-seat cafe noted for their genuine Cuban coffee and sandwiches. Soon after their achievements, Casimiro ordered a cafe or restaurant next door and switched it into a striking dining room. In 1930, his son took more than control and procedure of flourishing cafe.

Through the Great anxiety, his son Casimiro Jr. created the most important air-conditioned living area in Tampa. He hoped the trendy look and elevated dancing flooring would draw individuals to the cafe that assist all of them forget about their particular fears for a night. The Don Quixote place ended up being a winner, while the Columbia managed to keep the doors open although different companies collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto their just kid, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an established artist that has met her partner, Cesar Gonzmart, at the Tampa bistro. This theatrical set delivered entertainment and art on the Columbia, establishing a showroom that managed many skilled Latin performers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s management, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota and various other areas in Fl.

Today, one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and held their family’s company going. Richard Gonzmart happens to be operating at their family’s restaurants since he was 12 years old, thus he is intimately knowledgeable about the atmosphere and record. Richard can actually suggest the dining table during the Columbia Restaurant in which he and his awesome partner had their unique first time above 43 in years past.

“there are many romance here, and we have an excellent tale,” mentioned Michael. “not as much as 15 restaurants in the us tend to be family-owned and more than a century old, so we’re in pretty elite organization.”

Fl’s earliest restaurant provides a happy and enduring record grounded on food, family members, and enjoyable. Michael informed united states the fifth generation from the founding family happens to be being groomed to dominate eventually. Richard’s daughters and nephew have chosen to take on active control functions during the restaurants consequently they are ready to keep carefully the household heritage opting for numerous years to come.

The Columbia might known with a few for the greatest honors during the restaurant industry, such as induction into Nation’s eatery Information’ “good Dining Hall of popularity,” made the “Distinguished Restaurants of the united states (SiRoNA) honor of Excellence,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “better of honor of Excellence.”

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

The Columbia Restaurant establishes a magnificent dining table and gives an enjoyable getting away from everyday activity. It seduces your sensory faculties from the moment you walk-in the doorways. You’re in the middle of greenery, drinking water fountains, and artwork as the sounds of fun therefore the odors of new fish and shellfish meals waft through the environment. Before my personal order also gets to me, my mouth area is definitely watering with expectation. Fortunately, each visitor will get his/her own recently made loaf of Cuban bread, and so I have actually something you should satisfy my personal taste buds while I wait.

The 14-page diet plan is full of good food but also supplies simple discussion starters for daters merely observing each other. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat is sold with an enticing description and additionally interesting history info. For-instance, the bistro’s coconut frozen dessert ended up being a well liked of frozen dessert business owner Gustavo Hernandez, the next daughter regarding the original Columbia founder, now this sweet recipe is actually offered inside the respect.

Through the veggie paella (Spanish grain mixed with satisfying vegetables) for the shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foods in the Columbia are bursting with flavor. The shareable dishes, called tapas, get this to cafe well suited for partners on a night out together since you will come closer with each other by sharing small dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. You can easily make a budget-friendly food by buying a few of these appetizers collectively — just remember to save area for treat!

The Très Amigos churros would be an excellent choice for partners since they are tactile, nice, and just only a little dirty. Possible drop the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s something for all. Additionally, Columbia’s trademark White Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent treat excellent for splitting with a romantic date having a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog called the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night spots, promoting lovers to “start out with Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, and discuss a huge platter from the Paella a la Valenciana, full of shellfish, fragrant grain, and chorizo.”

The enchanting evening will be-all the greater satisfying should you set along with your food one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a wealthy drink called after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and wife.

Plus, on Columbia eatery, the sangria is perish for. Severely, it comes of the cup you could also split a pitcher of white or red-colored sangria with a romantic date to boost your own dining knowledge. Amply huge cuts of fresh fruit drift for the drink and infuse it with rich types. Whether you are purchasing this classic sangria or one of the bistro’s household wines, the high-caliber products do not let you down.

Michael informed us the group helps make an attempt to offer affordable yet quality wines to whet visitors’ appetites. “All of our wine selection should always be perfectly designed for the meal we offer along with your price point,” he mentioned.

Many Couples & groups Have Shared Special times Here

When I think on the Columbia, i do believe with the evening we decided to have dessert for lunch, and my personal parents purchased churros, key lime pie, mango mousse meal, white candy breads dessert, and five spoons. I do believe of my personal twin-brother attempting grouper the very first time on our 20th birthday celebration and saying excitedly, “get my picture” because the older woman younger guy desired to reveal their girlfriend (who’s today their girlfriend) that he liked taking in fish everything she performed.

In numerous techniques, the Columbia feels like the destination, but my family actually the actual only real family for produced recollections only at that bistro and its six sister locations across Fl. People started to the restaurant anyway stages of existence since it supplies an unique atmosphere that sets really with any event.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had been frequent visitors with the Columbia during the early 1950s. The Columbia team paid tribute on the couple while the enjoying thoughts they provided at the restaurant by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed combination of tenderloin ideas, boneless chicken breast, shrimp, and pork — is actually a delicious indication associated with the extended reputation of love in Columbia’s dining areas.

Whether you’re going on a first day or honoring a wedding anniversary, you will discover intimacy and love flourish in the gentle candlelight associated with Columbia eatery.

“its one of our targets,” Michael mentioned, “getting folks feel like the Columbia is the perfect place to come calmly to commemorate existence’s goals.”

The Columbia eatery offers group standards toward Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with genuine meals, divine atmospheres, and personable solution. The machines, at the least at all of our Columbia in Sand Key, pay attention to their particular friends and are rapid to express “Welcome straight back” to dedicated customers who, like my children, find themselves time for the classy dining rooms over repeatedly.

This long-standing food institution features expanded and changed through the decades, however it hasn’t ever disregarded their century-long household sources. Richard provides bold intends to provide diners and daters throughout Fl in a long time. “Our owner does not rest,” Michael stated with a laugh. “He’s usually thinking right up something new.”

The Columbia group intends to open up no less than two new restaurants from inside the upcoming many years. One will end up being easily positioned appropriate across the street from initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open in fall 2018, are going to pay respect to a tiny community in Sicily in which a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the genuine eating plan aims to deliver these families a delicious note of house.

Suffering authority and quality styles improve Columbia eatery as well as their sibling restaurants really impressive locations in which singles and couples can spend a night in the company of those they like most useful.

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