The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Fl’s Oldest Eatery Creates a lovely Backdrop For Your Passionate Moments


The brief variation: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually supported Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and beverages that express a long-standing genealogy and family history. Established by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains a m4m local preferred because of its old-fashioned ingredients and personable solution. Throughout the years, people from world-wide have come for the attractive restaurant to celebrate engagements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, also monumental moments. Nowadays, the next and fifth years regarding the household has and operates 13 various restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re looking for fine dining with a good traditional family members feel, you are able to reserve a table inside the stunning and passionate eating spaces from the Columbia Restaurant.


Over the past 3 decades, my family’s preferred vacation destination has been an oceanfront resort in Sand Key, Florida. We have now eliminated there over twelve times to build sand castles, spot whales, and consume tasty dishes on patios ignoring the gulf coast of florida.

We completely investigated town’s cafe selection, looking from most useful neighborhood joints about, nonetheless it merely very happens that one bistro most of us enjoy most is within strolling distance of one’s resort. The Columbia Restaurant’s white-linen tablecloths, mindful solution, and mouth-watering meals allow it to be our very own go-to place for supper.

As soon as we had been children, my personal parents would order you a cheese pizza pie as they visited this passionate Spanish cafe alone; but we now enjoy tapas and drink as much as they carry out, therefore we’ve begun crashing their night out — often providing along times of our own very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant features wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world atmosphere. Though itis the oldest cafe in Florida, the business remains operated by the descendants for the original founder. Every item throughout the eating plan features an account behind it, and several of this quality recipes were handed over from one generation on the Hernandez Gonzmart household to another location. Family custom is an enormous an element of the Columbia’s selection, record, and approach to service.

“the employees can a bit like household,” said Michael Kilgore, the main promotion Officer when it comes to Columbia. “quite a few staff members remain for 20 or three decades. One of several situations we love about the team is how long they stick with all of us. They show up here and discover a home.”

You can enjoy this comfy and pleasant atmosphere on your own subsequent date night when you go to any one of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant at this time serves visitors in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and party. Whether you’re drinking wine on a picturesque balcony or enjoying flamenco performers light up the stage as you take in tapas, you’re certain to have a remarkable night from the Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can track its background back to Dec. 17, 1903 — the same day the Wright brothers effectively tried society’s basic plane. Which was when a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started working a saloon for a nearby making organization in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person switched the saloon into popular 60-seat cafe noted for the genuine Cuban coffee-and sandwiches. After his achievements, Casimiro bought a cafe or restaurant next-door and converted it into an attractive kitchen. In 1930, their boy got more than control and operation of this flourishing cafe.

Through the Great Depression, his son Casimiro Jr. created the initial air-conditioned living area in Tampa. The guy hoped their upscale look and raised dance floor would draw people to the bistro which help all of them forget their unique fears for per night. The Don Quixote Room had been a hit, together with Columbia was able to keep their doorways available although different businesses folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia to his only kid, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished musician who had came across her partner, Cesar Gonzmart, within Tampa bistro. This theatrical set delivered enjoyment and artistry towards the Columbia, creating a showroom that hosted lots of skilled Latin dancers and performers. Under Adela and Cesar’s authority, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota alongside areas in Florida.

These days, certainly Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and held their family members’ business going. Richard Gonzmart was working at his family members’ restaurants since he was 12 yrs old, very he is closely knowledgeable about their environment and history. Richard may actually point to the table on Columbia eatery in which he along with his wife had their basic big date a lot more than 43 in years past.

“There’s a lot of relationship here, and now we have a good tale,” mentioned Michael. “not as much as 15 restaurants in the usa tend to be family-owned and more than 100 years old, therefore we’re in pretty elite business.”

Florida’s earliest restaurant provides a satisfied and enduring record rooted in food, family members, and enjoyable. Michael told us the 5th generation associated with the founding family is getting groomed to dominate eventually. Richard’s daughters and nephew took in productive administration functions during the restaurants and are willing to maintain family tradition choosing a lot more a long time.

The Columbia has-been known with from the greatest honours in cafe business, such as induction into country’s eatery Information’ “okay food Hall of popularity,” made the “notable Restaurants of united states (SiRoNA) honor of Excellence,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “better of Award of quality.”

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

The Columbia Restaurant establishes a magnificent dining table and provides a delightful getting away from daily life. It seduces your sensory faculties from the moment you walk in the doors. You’re enclosed by greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork given that noises of fun additionally the odors of fresh fish and shellfish dishes waft through atmosphere. Before my order even extends to myself, my lips is often watering with anticipation. The good news is, each guest will get his/her own freshly made loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, so I have actually something to please my taste buds while we wait.

The 14-page menu is full of good food but supplies easy discussion beginners for daters only getting to know one another. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat includes an enticing description and additionally fascinating background details. Including, the cafe’s coconut frozen dessert was a preferred of ice cream business owner Gustavo Hernandez, the third child of the initial Columbia creator, and today this sweet dish is offered inside the respect.

From the vegetarian paella (Spanish rice combined with satisfying veggies) toward shrimp great (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the foodstuffs at the Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable dishes, known as tapas, get this to cafe suitable for lovers on a date as you may come better with each other by sharing tiny dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. It’s easy to create a budget-friendly dinner by purchasing a number of of those appetizers together — just remember to save lots of area for treat!

The Très Amigos churros could well be a fantastic choice for lovers since they are tactile, nice, and simply somewhat messy. You are able to drop the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s a little for everyone. Plus, Columbia’s trademark White Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent dessert perfect for splitting with a romantic date that a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog named the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night spots, motivating lovers to “start off with Columbia’s well-known 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, after which discuss a massive plate with the Paella a la Valenciana, full of shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo.”

Your own passionate evening will be all the greater number of pleasurable should you decide pair along with your dinner one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, an abundant drink called after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and spouse.

Plus, during the Columbia eatery, the sangria is to die for. Seriously, referring because of the cup but you can additionally divide a pitcher of white or yellow sangria with a date to improve the food experience. Generously huge cuts of fruit float into the wine and infuse it with rich types. Whether you’re purchasing this traditional sangria or the cafe’s household wines, the high-caliber beverages don’t let you down.

Michael informed you the team helps make an endeavor to provide affordable yet quality wines to whet guests’ appetites. “the drink choice is completely suited to the food we offer as well as your selling price,” he said.

Many partners & households have actually Shared particular Moments Here

When i believe with the Columbia, i do believe for the evening we decided to have dessert for dinner, and my parents bought churros, important lime pie, mango mousse meal, white candy loaves of bread pudding, and five spoons. I think of my personal twin brother attempting grouper the very first time on the 20th birthday and stating excitedly, “get my picture” because he desired to program his gf (that’s now their spouse) which he enjoyed taking in fish approximately she performed.

In so many ways, the Columbia is like our location, but my loved ones isn’t really truly the only household to own generated memories only at that bistro and its six sister places across Fl. Folks arrive at the bistro whatsoever stages of existence as it supplies a particular atmosphere that pairs well with any special event.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be frequent visitors for the Columbia during the early 1950s. The Columbia staff paid tribute toward couple as well as the enjoying recollections they contributed within bistro by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed blend of tenderloin guidelines, boneless chicken breast, shrimp, and chicken — is actually a tasty note on the lengthy reputation for romance in the Columbia’s dining rooms.

Whether you’re taking place a primary big date or celebrating a wedding anniversary, you will discover intimacy and enthusiasm flourish in the soft candlelight regarding the Columbia eatery.

“It is a objectives,” Michael stated, “having folks feel as if the Columbia is the place to come quickly to celebrate existence’s goals.”

The Columbia eatery has household Values towards Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with real meals, divine atmospheres, and personable service. The computers, no less than at all of our Columbia in Sand Key, pay attention to their friends and are also quick to state “Welcome back” to faithful customers who, like my family, are going back to the stylish eating spaces again and again.

This long-standing dinner organization provides expanded and altered throughout the decades, however it has not forgotten its century-long household origins. Richard has committed intentions to offer diners and daters throughout Fl within the years into the future. “our very own owner doesn’t sleep,” Michael stated with a laugh. “He’s constantly dreaming upwards something totally new.”

The Columbia team intends to start about two new restaurants in coming decades. One will end up being conveniently situated appropriate across the street from initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open up in autumn 2018, will pay respect to a tiny village in Sicily where a majority of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the genuine menu is designed to deliver these family members a tasty note of residence.

Enduring authority and high quality tastes improve Columbia Restaurant and all of the sis restaurants genuinely amazing places where singles and couples can spend a night in the company of those they like finest.

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