The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Florida’s Oldest Eatery Produces an attractive Background To Suit Your Passionate Moments

The brief variation: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant provides supported Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and products that represent a long-standing genealogy. Started by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia continues to be an area favorite simply because of its traditional meals and personable service. Over the years, individuals from all over the world attended with the glamorous restaurant to celebrate involvements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, along with other monumental moments. Now, the last and fifth years of this family members possesses and operates 13 different restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for fine food with a good conventional family feel, possible reserve a table from inside the spectacular and enchanting dinner spaces regarding the Columbia Restaurant.


For the past 3 decades, my loved ones’s favored vacation destination was an oceanfront hotel in Sand Key, Florida. We have eliminated there over several occasions to create mud castles, area dolphins, and consume tasty dishes on patios overlooking the gulf coast of florida.

We’ve completely discovered the town’s restaurant variety, looking out the most useful regional bones around, however it just therefore happens that one bistro we all enjoy the majority of is actually within strolling distance of your hotel. The Columbia eatery’s white-linen tablecloths, attentive solution, and mouth-watering meals create all of our go-to place for supper.

When we were children, my parents would order all of us a cheese pizza pie even though they visited this intimate Spanish cafe alone; but we have now enjoy tapas and wine equally as much because they perform, so we’ve started crashing their own night out — often delivering along dates of our own own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery provides wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world ambiance. Although itis the oldest restaurant in Florida, the business still is operated by the descendants regarding the original creator. Every object in the menu features a story behind it, and lots of on the dishes are transmitted from one generation in the Hernandez Gonzmart family members to another location. Household heritage is a huge an element of the Columbia’s selection, background, and method to solution.

“the employees is also a little like family,” mentioned Michael Kilgore, the Chief advertising Officer for any Columbia. “quite a few employees remain for 20 or 3 decades. Among the things we like about our party is how long they stick with united states. They show up here and find a house.”

You can enjoy this comfortable and pleasant atmosphere on the after that night out by visiting any one of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant currently serves visitors in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you are sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or watching flamenco performers light up the phase although you eat tapas, you are certain to have a remarkable evening within Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can locate their record back again to Dec. 17, 1903 — alike time the Wright brothers successfully tried worldwide’s first plane. That has been whenever a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began running a saloon for a nearby preparing business in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person switched the saloon into a prominent 60-seat cafe noted for the real Cuban coffee and sandwiches. Following their success, Casimiro ordered a restaurant across the street and switched it into a striking dining sex roleplay room. In 1930, his daughter took over ownership and operation of the thriving bistro.

Through the Great Depression, their boy Casimiro Jr. built one air-conditioned living area in Tampa. He hoped the trendy appearance and raised dance floor would draw people to the restaurant that assist them forget their unique concerns for a night. The Don Quixote Room had been a success, and Columbia surely could hold the doorways available while many other businesses folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto their just kid, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an established artist who’d fulfilled her husband, Cesar Gonzmart, on Tampa bistro. This theatrical pair introduced activity and artistry into Columbia, setting up a showroom that managed a lot of talented Latin performers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota also places in Florida.

These days, certainly Adela and Cesar’s two sons has brought the reins and held their family’s company heading. Richard Gonzmart has become working at their family members’ restaurants since he had been 12 years of age, very he is thoroughly familiar with their atmosphere and background. Richard can point out the table within Columbia eatery in which he with his wife had their very first date above 43 in years past.

“There’s a lot of relationship right here, and we also have actually a great story,” said Michael. “Less than 15 restaurants in america tend to be family-owned and more than 100 years old, therefore we’re in pretty elite company.”

Fl’s oldest cafe has a pleased and enduring record rooted in meals, household, and enjoyable. Michael informed us the 5th generation with the founding household is getting groomed to take control of one day. Richard’s daughters and nephew took in productive administration roles at the restaurants and generally are prepared to keep consitently the household heritage choosing numerous years into the future.

The Columbia might recognized which includes from the highest prizes in cafe market, such as induction into Nation’s eatery News’ “Fine eating Hall of Fame,” made the “notable Restaurants of the united states (SiRoNA) Award of Excellence,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “good Award of quality.”

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

The Columbia eatery establishes a luxurious dining table and a delightful getting away from daily life. It seduces your own senses as soon as you walk in the doorways. You’re surrounded by greenery, water fountains, and artwork while the sounds of fun and odors of new fish meals waft through the air. Before my purchase even reaches myself, my mouth area is watering with anticipation. Luckily, each guest gets his / her own newly made loaf of Cuban breads, therefore I have actually something to please my personal taste buds while I wait.

The 14-page selection is filled with great food but supplies simple discussion beginners for daters only learning each other. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert boasts an enticing description also fascinating history info. Such as, the bistro’s coconut frozen dessert ended up being a popular of frozen dessert entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd child with the initial Columbia founder, and after this this nice meal is actually offered inside the respect.

From the vegetarian paella (Spanish rice mixed with satisfying vegetables) on the shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foods within Columbia are bursting with taste. The shareable plates, also known as tapas, make this bistro suitable for partners on a romantic date as you can come better collectively by sharing small dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. It is possible to generate a budget-friendly meal by purchasing certain of the appetizers collectively — just remember to truly save room for treat!

The Très Amigos churros is an excellent option for couples since they are tactile, nice, and merely just a little dirty. You can drop the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s a little something for everybody. In addition, Columbia’s trademark White Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent treat ideal for splitting with a date that has a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog known as the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s leading date-night spots, promoting couples to “focus on Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, and share an enormous platter of Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, aromatic grain, and chorizo.”

The romantic night will be-all the greater amount of satisfying in the event that you set with your meal one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, a refreshing wine known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and wife.

Plus, within Columbia Restaurant, the sangria would be to perish for. Honestly, it comes down by the glass but you can also divide a pitcher of white or reddish sangria with a romantic date to increase your own dining knowledge. Generously huge slices of good fresh fruit float when you look at the wine and infuse it with wealthy tastes. Whether you are buying this traditional sangria or among the cafe’s household wines, the high-caliber drinks don’t disappoint.

Michael informed you the group tends to make an attempt to supply affordable however quality wines to whet visitors’ appetites. “the drink choice should really be completely suited to the food we provide plus price point,” the guy stated.

Many partners & groups have actually Shared specialized times Here

When i do believe for the Columbia, i do believe associated with the night we decided to have treat for lunch, and my parents ordered churros, key lime pie, mango mousse cake, white chocolate bread pudding, and five spoons. I think of my twin-brother trying grouper the very first time on our 20th birthday and saying excitedly, “just take my photo” because the guy wished to program his girlfriend (that’s now their partner) he enjoyed taking fish whenever she did.

In so many means, the Columbia feels like our destination, but my family isn’t really the actual only real household for produced thoughts at the restaurant and its six sister areas across Fl. Individuals come to the restaurant whatsoever stages of life as it supplies an unique atmosphere that pairs really with any special event.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be constant visitors associated with the Columbia in the early 1950s. The Columbia employees paid tribute with the few and the enjoying memories they shared on restaurant by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed blend of tenderloin tips, boneless chicken breast, shrimp, and chicken — is actually a tasty reminder in the extended reputation for relationship inside the Columbia’s dining rooms.

Whether you’re taking place a primary time or remembering a marriage anniversary, you will discover closeness and enthusiasm achieve the smooth candlelight of Columbia eatery.

“It’s our targets,” Michael said, “to own folks feel as if the Columbia is the perfect place to come quickly to commemorate existence’s goals.”

The Columbia Restaurant has household standards into Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with authentic meals, divine atmospheres, and personable service. The computers, at the least at our very own Columbia in Sand Key, look closely at their guests as they are rapid to say “Welcome right back” to faithful consumers just who, like my family, are returning to the stylish eating spaces over and over repeatedly.

This long-standing food business has grown and altered throughout the decades, but it hasn’t ever forgotten about its century-long family members origins. Richard provides committed plans to serve diners and daters throughout Florida inside the years into the future. “our very own owner doesn’t sleep,” Michael said with fun. “He’s usually dreaming upwards something totally new.”

The Columbia group intentions to open at least two brand new restaurants into the upcoming years. One will end up being easily found correct next door through the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open up in autumn 2018, will probably pay honor to a small community in Sicily where most Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants emerged from — the real selection is designed to deliver these family members a tasty reminder of house.

Suffering leadership and high quality tastes result in the Columbia Restaurant and all its sister restaurants undoubtedly great spots where singles and couples can invest a night in the company of those they love greatest.