The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Florida’s Oldest Eatery Produces an attractive Backdrop To Suit Your Romantic Times

The brief type: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has offered Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and beverages that represent a long-standing genealogy and family history. Started by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia stays a nearby favored due to its traditional ingredients and personable service. Throughout the years, folks from all over the globe attended toward glamorous cafe to celebrate involvements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and other monumental minutes. Nowadays, the last and 5th generations for the family has and works 13 different restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for good dinner with a good traditional family sense, you’ll reserve a table into the spectacular and intimate food areas from the Columbia eatery.


Over the past 3 decades, my loved ones’s favored vacation destination has-been an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Fl. We have now gone there over several times to construct mud castles, spot whales, and eat tasty dinners on patios overlooking the gulf.

We’ve got completely discovered the city’s restaurant variety, looking the actual most readily useful regional joints around, it merely so takes place that the one restaurant we all enjoy most is actually within walking distance of your lodge. The Columbia eatery’s white linen tablecloths, mindful solution, and mouth-watering meals enable it to be our very own go-to place for lunch.

As soon as we happened to be kids, my personal parents would get united states a parmesan cheese pizza pie while they went to this romantic Spanish restaurant by yourself; but we now enjoy tapas and drink equally as much as they carry out, so we’ve started crashing their own date night — often providing along dates in our very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery features wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world atmosphere. Though it’s the earliest bistro in Fl, the business remains operated from the descendants from the initial founder. Every item regarding diet plan has a tale behind it, and many of this dishes have been handed over from one generation from the Hernandez Gonzmart family members to the next. Household practice is a large an element of the Columbia’s menu, record, and way of service.

“the employees normally slightly like family,” mentioned Michael Kilgore, the main advertising Officer when it comes down to Columbia. “quite a few employees remain for 20 or thirty years. One of several circumstances we like about all of our team is actually how long they stay with us. They are available here in order to find a home.”

You may enjoy this comfy and pleasant environment on your own subsequent night out when you go to any one of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia eatery presently serves guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater seashore, and Celebration. Whether you are sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or enjoying flamenco performers light up the phase whilst you eat tapas, you’re guaranteed to have a memorable night within Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can locate its record back to Dec. 17, 1903 — equivalent time the Wright brothers effectively tested the entire world’s basic plane. Which was whenever a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started working a saloon for a local making business in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious entrepreneur switched the saloon into a well known 60-seat cafe known for its real Cuban coffee and snacks. After their achievements, Casimiro bought a cafe or restaurant across the street and converted it into a gorgeous living area. In 1930, their boy took more than control and operation of this thriving cafe.

Through the Great Depression, their son Casimiro Jr. built one air-conditioned dining room in Tampa. He hoped its trendy look and elevated party floor would draw individuals to the restaurant and help them forget about their own concerns for every night. The Don Quixote Room was actually a winner, and also the Columbia could hold its doorways open even though many other organizations folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia to their sole youngster, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished artist who had fulfilled the woman husband, Cesar Gonzmart, at Tampa restaurant. This theatrical pair brought activity and artistry for the Columbia, setting up a showroom that managed lots of talented Latin performers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s management, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota alongside locations in Fl.

Today, certainly one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has brought the reins and held his family’s company going. Richard Gonzmart has-been operating at his family members’ restaurants since he was 12 years old, so he’s intimately knowledgeable about its atmosphere and background. Richard can suggest the table in the Columbia Restaurant where the guy with his girlfriend had their own basic go out a lot more than 43 years back.

“There’s a lot of romance here, therefore we have actually a great tale,” stated Michael. “lower than 15 restaurants in america are family-owned and most a century outdated, so we’re in pretty elite organization.”

Fl’s oldest restaurant has actually a satisfied and enduring background rooted in food, household, and enjoyable. Michael told united states the fifth generation in the founding family happens to be getting groomed to take control one day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have chosen to take on productive management roles from the restaurants and therefore are ready to maintain the family custom opting for numerous years into the future.

The Columbia has become acknowledged with a few of greatest honors within the bistro sector, such as induction into Nation’s Restaurant News’ “great food Hall of Fame,” won the “Distinguished Restaurants of the united states (SiRoNA) honor of Excellence,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “good Award of quality.”

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

The Columbia Restaurant sets a luxurious table and offers a delightful getting away from everyday life. It seduces the sensory faculties from the moment you walk in the doors. You’re surrounded by greenery, drinking water fountains, and artwork just like the noises of laughter plus the smells of new fish and shellfish meals waft through atmosphere. Before my purchase actually gets to me, my lips is always watering with anticipation. Luckily, each visitor becomes his/her very own newly generated loaf of Cuban breads, and so I have actually something to meet my tastebuds while I wait.

The 14-page menu is filled with good food and provides easy discussion starters for daters just getting to know one another. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert boasts an enticing information and interesting history information. For instance, the bistro’s coconut ice-cream was actually a favorite of ice-cream entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the next daughter associated with original Columbia creator, and today this sweet plate is actually offered within his respect.

Through the vegetarian paella (Spanish grain mixed with satisfying greens) towards the shrimp supreme (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foodstuffs in the Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable dishes, also known as tapas, get this cafe ideal for lovers on a date because you may come better collectively by discussing little plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. To make a budget-friendly dinner by ordering a number of of those appetizers together — just remember to save room for treat!

The Très Amigos churros was a great selection for couples since they are tactile, nice, and simply some messy. You are able to drop the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s a little for everyone. Plus, Columbia’s trademark White Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent dessert excellent for splitting with a night out together having a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site named the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night places, motivating couples to “start with Columbia’s famous 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, and then discuss a huge plate associated with Paella a la Valenciana, filled with shellfish, aromatic grain, and chorizo.”

Your own intimate evening will be-all the more satisfying if you pair with your dinner one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, an abundant wine known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and girlfriend.

Plus, during the Columbia eatery, the sangria should die for. Seriously, it comes down because of the glass but you can in addition split a pitcher of white or purple sangria with a night out together to increase the dining experience. Nicely big pieces of fruit drift inside the wine and infuse it with rich types. Whether you’re buying this traditional sangria or among the many cafe’s family wines, the high-caliber drinks try not to let you down.

Michael informed all of us the team helps make an endeavor to offer inexpensive but top quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “our very own drink choice need perfectly suited for the meal we serve plus cost,” he mentioned.

Countless Couples & Families have actually Shared specialized Moments Here

When i believe in the Columbia, In my opinion regarding the evening we decided to have treat for dinner, and my personal parents ordered churros, important lime pie, mango mousse dessert, white candy bread dessert, and five spoons. In my opinion of my twin-brother attempting grouper for the first time on all of our 20th birthday celebration and stating excitedly, “just take my image” because the guy wished to reveal their gf (that’s today their girlfriend) he enjoyed taking fish everything she did.

In many ways, the Columbia is like the spot, but my children is not the sole household getting generated memories at the restaurant and its own six sister locations across Florida. People reach the restaurant at all phases of existence given that it provides a special atmosphere that sets well with any gathering.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were repeated guests from the Columbia in early 1950s. The Columbia staff members paid tribute into few together with enjoying recollections they provided within cafe by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed combination of tenderloin recommendations, boneless chicken white meat, shrimp, and chicken — is actually a tasty reminder of extended history of relationship in the Columbia’s eating spaces.

Whether you’re happening a primary day or honoring a marriage anniversary, you will find closeness and enthusiasm flourish in the gentle candlelight of the Columbia eatery.

“its one of the goals,” Michael mentioned, “to possess folks feel like the Columbia is the place to get to celebrate existence’s milestones.”

The Columbia eatery has Family Values for the Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with genuine dishes, divine atmospheres, and friendly solution. The computers, about at our very own Columbia in Sand Key, watch their unique visitors and they are rapid to state “Welcome right back” to dedicated consumers whom, like my children, end up time for the classy dining spaces time and again.

This long-standing dinner institution features expanded and changed throughout the many years, nevertheless has not forgotten their century-long family origins. Richard has committed intentions to provide diners and daters throughout Fl from inside the a long time. “our very own owner does not sleep,” Michael mentioned with a laugh. “He’s usually dreaming up something new.”

The Columbia group plans to start no less than two new restaurants in the following decades. One will be conveniently situated right across the street from initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open in fall 2018, will probably pay homage to limited village in Sicily where most Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants came from — the real menu aims to deliver these households a delicious reminder of home.

Suffering management and high quality tastes make the Columbia Restaurant and all of the aunt restaurants certainly amazing spots where singles and lovers can spend an evening in the company of those they like most readily useful.