The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Fl’s Oldest Restaurant Creates an attractive Backdrop To Suit Your Enchanting Times

The Short type: Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has supported Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and drinks that express a long-standing genealogy. Started by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains an area favorite simply because of its standard foods and personable service. Over time, folks from all around the globe came on attractive bistro to celebrate involvements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, along with other monumental minutes. Nowadays, the fourth and 5th generations with the family members possesses and runs 13 different restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re searching for okay dining with a good conventional family experience, you are able to reserve a table during the spectacular and intimate food rooms of Columbia eatery.


Over the past thirty years, my children’s favorite destination has been an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Florida. We have now eliminated truth be told there over a dozen instances to create mud castles, area dolphins, and consume delicious dinners on patios overlooking the gulf.

We’ve got carefully explored town’s cafe variety, looking around out the most readily useful regional bones around, it merely thus takes place the one cafe each of us enjoy many is within strolling range of our own resort. The Columbia eatery’s white-linen tablecloths, attentive service, and mouth-watering food allow our very own go-to spot for lunch.

When we happened to be kids, my personal moms and dads would get all of us a cheese pizza pie even though they visited this passionate Spanish bistro alone; but we currently enjoy tapas and drink just as much because they would, therefore we’ve started crashing their date night — occasionally bringing along dates of our own very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant provides wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world atmosphere. Although it’s the oldest restaurant in Fl, the business still is operate by descendants from the original creator. Every item on the eating plan has actually a story behind it, and several of this dishes have been passed from one generation in the Hernandez Gonzmart family to the next. Family members heritage is a huge area of the Columbia’s diet plan, background, and method of service.

“The staff can also be a bit like household,” stated Michael Kilgore, the principle advertising Officer for Columbia. “quite a few workers stay for 20 or 3 decades. One of the things we like about all of our party is how much time they stick to united states. They show up here in order to find a home.”

You may enjoy this comfy and inviting environment in your then night out when you go to any of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant currently serves guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and party. Whether you’re drinking wine on a picturesque balcony or enjoying flamenco performers illuminate the level although you take in tapas, you are sure to have an unforgettable night at the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can locate their background returning to Dec. 17, 1903 — similar day the Wright brothers successfully tested globally’s basic airplane. That has been whenever a Cuban immigrant known as Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started working a saloon for a nearby preparing business in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious entrepreneur turned the saloon into a prominent 60-seat cafe noted for the real Cuban coffee-and snacks. After their success, Casimiro bought a restaurant next door and switched it into a striking kitchen. In 1930, his daughter got over possession and procedure with the flourishing restaurant.

While in the Great Depression, their daughter Casimiro Jr. built one air-conditioned dining area in Tampa. The guy hoped the upscale look and raised dancing flooring would draw men and meet bisexual women to the restaurant which help all of them forget about their unique concerns for every night. The Don Quixote place was actually popular, as well as the Columbia could hold its doors open even though many other businesses folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia on to his sole youngster, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished artist who had came across her partner, Cesar Gonzmart, at Tampa bistro. This theatrical set delivered enjoyment and art towards the Columbia, creating a showroom that hosted numerous skilled Latin performers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s management, the Columbia extended to Sarasota and various other places in Florida.

Today, among Adela and Cesar’s two sons has had the reins and held their family members’ company heading. Richard Gonzmart has-been operating at their family members’ restaurants since he was 12 years old, therefore he or she is thoroughly familiar with its environment and record. Richard can in fact point out the dining table in the Columbia eatery where he with his spouse had their very first big date above 43 years back.

“there are plenty of love here, and we also have outstanding story,” said Michael. “not as much as 15 restaurants in the United States tend to be family-owned and most a century old, so we’re in pretty elite company.”

Florida’s oldest restaurant features a happy and enduring record grounded on meals, family, and fun. Michael told you the fifth generation associated with the founding family members is now getting groomed to take over eventually. Richard’s daughters and nephew took on productive control parts at restaurants and are usually willing to maintain the family practice opting for numerous years to come.

The Columbia has been known with a few associated with highest honors during the bistro sector, including induction into Nation’s Restaurant News’ “great food Hall of Fame,” received the “notable Restaurants of united states (SiRoNA) honor of quality,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “better of Award of quality.”

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

The Columbia Restaurant sets a luxurious dining table and offers a delightful getting away from every day life. It seduces your own sensory faculties as soon as you walk-in the doors. You’re surrounded by greenery, drinking water fountains, and artwork once the sounds of laughter plus the smells of new fish dishes waft through the environment. Before my personal order even gets to myself, my lips is always watering with anticipation. Luckily for us, each guest will get his/her own newly produced loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, therefore I have actually something you should satisfy my personal preferences while I wait.

The 14-page selection is filled with good meals but in addition provides easy dialogue beginners for daters merely getting to know one another. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat includes an enticing description plus fascinating history information. For-instance, the bistro’s coconut ice cream ended up being a well liked of ice cream entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the next child regarding the original Columbia creator, and after this this nice recipe is actually offered within his respect.

From the vegetarian paella (Spanish rice mixed with hearty greens) towards the shrimp supreme (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the foods in the Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable dishes, also known as tapas, make this restaurant ideal for couples on a romantic date as you may come better collectively by sharing little dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. To generate a budget-friendly food by purchasing several of those appetizers together — keep in mind to truly save space for treat!

The Très Amigos churros could well be a fantastic option for partners since they are tactile, sweet, and simply only a little dirty. You’ll drop the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s a little something for all. In addition, Columbia’s signature light Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent treat perfect for splitting with a romantic date who’s got a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site called the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s top date-night spots, motivating partners to “start off with Columbia’s well-known 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, and discuss an enormous plate with the Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, aromatic rice, and chorizo.”

Your own enchanting night will be-all the greater amount of enjoyable any time you pair together with your dinner a glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a wealthy wine called after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and partner.

Plus, from the Columbia Restaurant, the sangria will be perish for. Severely, it comes down because of the cup you could in addition separate a pitcher of white or purple sangria with a date to increase your own dinner knowledge. Generously large slices of good fresh fruit drift into the drink and infuse it with wealthy tastes. Whether you are buying this traditional sangria or among restaurant’s family members wines, the high-caliber products dont disappoint.

Michael told us the group helps make an effort to provide inexpensive but top quality wines to whet guests’ appetites. “All of our wine selection must be completely fitted to the meal we provide and your selling price,” the guy mentioned.

Countless partners & Families have actually Shared particular Moments Here

When i do believe in the Columbia, i do believe of night we decided to have treat for lunch, and my personal moms and dads purchased churros, key lime pie, mango mousse cake, white chocolate bread pudding, and five spoons. In my opinion of my twin-brother trying grouper for the first time on the twentieth birthday celebration and claiming excitedly, “simply take my image” because the guy wanted to reveal their gf (that’s today his girlfriend) he liked eating fish just as much as she did.

In a lot of techniques, the Columbia feels like our very own place, but my loved ones is not the sole family to own made recollections during that bistro as well as its six sister areas across Fl. Individuals come to the restaurant whatsoever phases of life because it supplies an unique atmosphere that sets well with any party.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were constant visitors from the Columbia in the early 1950s. The Columbia team paid tribute toward couple as well as the warm thoughts they contributed within restaurant by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin recommendations, boneless chicken white meat, shrimp, and chicken — is a tasty reminder from the very long history of love inside Columbia’s dining spaces.

Whether you are happening a primary big date or honoring a marriage anniversary, you will discover closeness and passion flourish in the smooth candlelight regarding the Columbia Restaurant.

“It really is a targets,” Michael stated, “to have people feel like the Columbia is where to come calmly to commemorate existence’s milestones.”

The Columbia Restaurant has Family Values into Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with real meals, divine atmospheres, and personable service. The hosts, at least at our Columbia in Sand Key, look closely at their own guests and they are fast to say “Welcome straight back” to devoted customers who, like my family, are returning to the stylish eating spaces regularly.

This long-standing eating business provides cultivated and altered in the decades, nevertheless has never forgotten about its century-long family members roots. Richard provides challenging intends to offer diners and daters throughout Florida inside the years to come. “our very own proprietor does not rest,” Michael stated with a laugh. “He’s always fantasizing right up new things.”

The Columbia team plans to open at least two brand-new restaurants during the coming decades. One will end up being conveniently positioned appropriate next door from the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open up in fall 2018, will pay homage to a tiny village in Sicily where a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the genuine menu is designed to deliver these family members a delicious indication of residence.

Enduring management and top quality types make Columbia Restaurant and all the cousin restaurants truly impressive locations in which singles and lovers can spend an evening in the company of those they love greatest.

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