The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Florida’s Oldest Eatery Creates a lovely Backdrop For Your Romantic Times

The Quick Version: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has served Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and products that portray a long-standing genealogy and family history. Founded by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia stays a regional favored due to its old-fashioned meals and friendly solution. Through the years, folks from all over the world have come towards the attractive restaurant to celebrate involvements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and various other monumental minutes. These days, the next and 5th years of family members is the owner of and works 13 various restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re looking for okay dinner with a decent antique family sense, you are able to reserve a table in the stunning and passionate food areas with the Columbia Restaurant.


Over the past 3 decades, my children’s preferred destination has been an oceanfront hotel in Sand Key, Florida. We’ve eliminated there over a dozen instances to build mud castles, spot whales, and eat delicious dinners on patios ignoring the gulf coast of florida.

We’ve got completely investigated the town’s restaurant choice, looking around out the greatest local joints around, nevertheless merely so takes place your one bistro each of us enjoy the majority of is within strolling length in our lodge. The Columbia eatery’s white-linen tablecloths, conscious solution, and mouth-watering food enable it to be our go-to spot for lunch.

As soon as we were young ones, my parents would order united states a parmesan cheese pizza even though they visited this romantic Spanish bistro by yourself; however, we now enjoy tapas and drink equally as much because they would, therefore we’ve begun crashing their particular night out — sometimes delivering along times in our own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant features wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world ambiance. Though itis the earliest restaurant in Fl, the business enterprise continues to be run of the descendants on the original president. Every item regarding the selection provides a tale behind it, and several associated with the meals being handed over from one generation of this Hernandez Gonzmart family to another. Household custom is an enormous the main Columbia’s menu, record, and approach to solution.

« The staff can also be slightly like family, » said Michael Kilgore, the principle Marketing Officer when it comes to Columbia. « Many of our employees stay for 20 or thirty years. Among the many things we like about our very own group is how much time they stick with you. They come right here and locate a home. »

You can enjoy this comfy and inviting environment on your next date night when you go to any one of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia eatery presently acts visitors in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you’re sipping wine on a picturesque balcony or viewing flamenco dancers illuminate the level when you eat tapas, you are sure to have an unforgettable evening from the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can locate the background back to Dec. 17, 1903 — exactly the same time the Wright brothers successfully tested the entire world’s basic plane. That was whenever a Cuban immigrant known as Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began operating a saloon for a regional brewing company in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person turned the saloon into a prominent 60-seat cafe recognized for its real Cuban coffee and snacks. After their success, Casimiro purchased a restaurant nearby and switched it into a gorgeous dining area. In 1930, his son got more than possession and procedure on the thriving restaurant.

During Great Depression, his daughter Casimiro Jr. built one air-conditioned dining area in Tampa. The guy hoped the upscale appearance and raised dance flooring would draw men and women to the cafe that assist them forget their particular concerns for per night. The Don Quixote area was actually popular, and Columbia was able to keep its doorways open while many additional companies folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia to his only youngster, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an established musician that has satisfied the woman spouse, Cesar Gonzmart, from the Tampa cafe. This theatrical set brought entertainment and artistry on Columbia, establishing a showroom that managed numerous skilled Latin performers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia extended to Sarasota and other locations in Florida.

Today, certainly Adela and Cesar’s two sons has had the reins and held his family’s company heading. Richard Gonzmart has-been functioning at their family’s restaurants since he had been 12 yrs . old, very he’s intimately knowledgeable about their environment and history. Richard may actually suggest the dining table in the Columbia Restaurant in which he and his awesome partner had their particular first date above 43 in years past.

« there are many romance here, and now we have actually a great story, » stated Michael. « below 15 restaurants in the usa are family-owned and more than a century old, therefore we’re in pretty elite organization. »

Florida’s earliest restaurant features a pleased and enduring history grounded on food, family, and enjoyable. Michael told all of us the fifth generation for the founding household is currently becoming groomed to take control one-day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have chosen to take on productive control parts during the restaurants and generally are willing to keep consitently the family practice going for additional years into the future.

The Columbia has-been recognized with some associated with the highest prizes in bistro industry, such as induction into country’s eatery Information’ « okay food Hall of popularity, » received the « Distinguished Restaurants of America (SiRoNA) Award of quality, » Fl Trend’s « Golden Spoon Hall of popularity, » and Wine Spectator’s « Best of Award of Excellence. »

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

The Columbia eatery establishes a luxurious table and a wonderful escape from every day life. It seduces your own sensory faculties as soon as you walk-in the doorways. You are enclosed by greenery, water fountains, and artwork just like the noise of fun and the smells of fresh fish and shellfish meals waft through atmosphere. Before my personal purchase also gets to me personally, my mouth area is obviously watering with anticipation. Luckily for us, each visitor will get his / her very own freshly produced loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, and so I have something you should meet my personal taste buds while I wait.

The 14-page diet plan is filled with good meals additionally supplies effortless discussion beginners for daters only observing the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat is sold with an enticing description and additionally fascinating history information. Including, the restaurant’s coconut frozen dessert had been a popular of ice-cream entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the next boy associated with initial Columbia president, and today this nice dish is supported inside the honor.

From the veggie paella (Spanish grain blended with hearty vegetables) with the shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the meals in the Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable plates, known as tapas, get this bistro well suited for lovers on a night out together since you may come better collectively by discussing small dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. It is possible to generate a budget-friendly meal by buying many of these appetizers collectively — keep in mind to truly save space for treat!

The Très Amigos churros could be an excellent option for partners because they’re tactile, sweet, and simply a tiny bit messy. You’ll dip the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s a little for all. Plus, Columbia’s trademark White Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent dessert excellent for splitting with a date who’s a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler web log called the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s leading date-night places, promoting partners to « start out with Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, and share a huge plate in the Paella a la Valenciana, filled with shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo. »

Your enchanting night will be-all the greater number of enjoyable any time you combine together with your meal a glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a wealthy wine named after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and partner.

Plus, in the Columbia eatery, the sangria would be to die for. Honestly, referring of the cup but you can in addition divide a pitcher of white or yellow sangria with a date to increase the dining knowledge. Nicely big slices of fresh fruit float inside drink and infuse it with wealthy styles. Whether you’re buying this traditional sangria or among restaurant’s family wines, the high-caliber beverages try not to disappoint.

Michael informed all of us the group can make an endeavor to provide affordable yet quality wines to whet guests’ appetites. « our very own drink variety should-be perfectly designed for the food we provide and your price, » he said.

Countless Couples & groups Have Shared particular Moments Here

When In my opinion associated with Columbia, i do believe of the night we made a decision to have dessert for dinner, and my moms and dads purchased churros, important lime pie, mango mousse meal, white candy breads pudding, and five spoons. In my opinion of my twin-brother trying grouper the very first time on the 20th birthday celebration and stating excitedly, « simply take my photo » because the guy planned to reveal their girlfriend (who is today his partner) which he liked taking in fish up to she performed.

In a lot of steps, the Columbia feels as though our location, but my children actually the only real family for produced recollections at the restaurant and its particular six sister areas across Fl. People reach the cafe anyway phases of existence given that it provides an unique environment that pairs really with any special event.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were constant guests of Columbia in the early 1950s. The Columbia staff members settled tribute to your few together with enjoying thoughts they shared from the cafe 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 indication of the extended history of romance from inside the Columbia’s eating spaces.

Whether you are going on a first day or celebrating a wedding anniversary, you’ll find closeness and love achieve the smooth candlelight regarding the Columbia Restaurant.

« It’s one of our targets, » Michael said, « having individuals feel as if the Columbia is the place to get to celebrate life’s milestones. »

The Columbia eatery has Family standards for the Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with genuine meals, divine atmospheres, and personable service. The servers, about at our very own Columbia in Sand Key, watch their unique guests and they are quick to express « Welcome straight back » to faithful customers exactly who, like my loved ones, end up going back to the classy eating rooms time and again.

This long-standing dining establishment has actually grown and altered throughout the years, nevertheless has never forgotten about its century-long household roots. Richard features bold intends to provide diners and daters throughout Florida inside the years to come. « the manager does not rest, » Michael said with fun. « he is constantly dreaming up something totally new. »

The Columbia team plans to start no less than two new restaurants inside the impending years. One will end up being easily situated right down the street from initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open in autumn 2018, are going to pay homage to a small town in Sicily where a majority of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants emerged from — the real diet plan aims to bring these individuals a delicious indication of home.

Enduring leadership and top quality tastes make Columbia Restaurant as well as the cousin restaurants genuinely amazing places in which singles and partners can spend an evening together with those they love most useful.

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