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

The brief Version: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually offered Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and drinks that express a long-standing family history. Created by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains a nearby favored because of its conventional ingredients and friendly solution. Through the years, individuals from world-wide came for the attractive cafe to celebrate engagements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, as well as other monumental times. Now, the last and fifth years from the household is the owner of and runs 13 different restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re searching for good eating with a good traditional family members sense, you’ll reserve a table inside the spectacular and intimate eating areas in the Columbia Restaurant.


Over the past three decades, my loved ones’s preferred destination happens to be an oceanfront hotel in Sand Key, Florida. We’ve gone truth be told there over several occasions to build sand castles, spot dolphins, and consume delicious dinners on patios ignoring the gulf.

We’ve completely discovered town’s cafe selection, looking for bisexual from the greatest local bones about, but it merely thus happens that one cafe we enjoy a lot of is actually within taking walks range of our own resort. The Columbia eatery’s white linen tablecloths, attentive service, and mouth-watering food allow our go-to area for supper.

Once we had been young ones, my parents would get united states a mozzarella cheese pizza even though they checked out this passionate Spanish restaurant alone; however, we now enjoy tapas and wine as much while they perform, so we’ve begun crashing their particular night out — often taking along dates of one’s own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world atmosphere. Though it’s the oldest cafe in Florida, business is still operated of the descendants on the original president. Every item regarding menu features a story behind it, and several associated with the recipes being transmitted from one generation of this Hernandez Gonzmart family to a higher. Family members custom is a huge the main Columbia’s diet plan, background, and approach to service.

“the employees normally a bit like family members,” stated Michael Kilgore, the principle Marketing Officer when it comes down to Columbia. “Many of our workers stay for 20 or thirty years. Among the many circumstances we love about all of our group is how much time they stay with us. They show up here and locate a house.”

You can enjoy this comfy and inviting environment on your own next night out by going to any of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia eatery currently acts visitors in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you are sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or viewing flamenco dancers illuminate the level even though you consume tapas, you are guaranteed to have an unforgettable night during the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can trace their record back once again to Dec. 17, 1903 — equivalent day the Wright brothers effectively tested society’s very first aircraft. That was whenever a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started operating a saloon for a local making business in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business owner switched the saloon into a well known 60-seat cafe noted for their authentic Cuban coffee and snacks. After his success, Casimiro ordered a cafe or restaurant across the street and converted it into a striking dining area. In 1930, his son took more than possession and operation of this thriving restaurant.

While in the Great Depression, their child Casimiro Jr. created one air-conditioned kitchen in Tampa. The guy hoped their trendy appearance and raised party flooring would draw men and women to the cafe which help all of them forget their particular fears for every night. The Don Quixote Room ended up being popular, while the Columbia could hold their doors open although various other businesses folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto his only son or daughter, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished musician who’d came across her husband, Cesar Gonzmart, at the Tampa restaurant. This theatrical set delivered entertainment and artistry on Columbia, setting up a showroom that hosted lots of skilled Latin dancers and musicians. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota alongside areas in Fl.

Now, one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has had the reins and held his family’s business heading. Richard Gonzmart happens to be functioning at their family members’ restaurants since he was 12 years of age, very he is thoroughly acquainted with their atmosphere and record. Richard can in fact point to the table at Columbia eatery in which he and his awesome spouse had their particular basic day over 43 in years past.

“there are plenty of relationship here, therefore have a fantastic story,” mentioned Michael. “under 15 restaurants in america are family-owned and more than 100 years old, so we’re in pretty elite company.”

Florida’s earliest cafe has actually a pleased and enduring history grounded on meals, family, and fun. Michael informed us the fifth generation of the founding family members is now becoming groomed to take control of someday. Richard’s daughters and nephew took on energetic control functions on restaurants and they are prepared keep the family tradition going for many more years to come.

The Columbia might recognized with a few of the greatest awards inside cafe sector, such as induction into Nation’s eatery News’ “okay Dining Hall of popularity,” obtained the “notable Restaurants of the united states (SiRoNA) Award of Excellence,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “Best of honor of quality.”

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

The Columbia eatery sets a luxurious dining table and gives a wonderful getting away from daily life. It seduces the sensory faculties from the moment you walk-in the doors. You’re surrounded by greenery, liquid fountains, and artwork as the noise of laughter plus the scents of new fish and shellfish dishes waft through the atmosphere. Before my purchase actually reaches myself, my personal mouth area is always watering with anticipation. Luckily for us, each guest will get his/her own freshly made loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, so I have something you should fulfill my personal tastebuds while we wait.

The 14-page diet plan is filled with great meals but additionally supplies easy conversation starters for daters only getting to know the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert includes an enticing description together with interesting back ground details. As an instance, the restaurant’s coconut frozen dessert ended up being a well liked of ice cream entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd son in the initial Columbia founder, and after this this sweet dish is actually offered inside the honor.

From the veggie paella (Spanish grain combined with satisfying veggies) to the shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the meals from the Columbia are bursting with taste. The shareable dishes, known as tapas, get this to bistro well suited for partners on a night out together as you will come better with each other by revealing small plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. You can make a budget-friendly dinner by ordering many of those appetizers together — remember to save space for treat!

The Très Amigos churros was a fantastic choice for couples since they are tactile, sweet, and simply some dirty. It is possible to dip the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s something for all. Plus, Columbia’s signature White Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent treat perfect for splitting with a night out together who has got a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler web log named the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night places, encouraging lovers to “start with Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, after which share a massive plate with the Paella a la Valenciana, filled with shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo.”

Your romantic night will be-all the greater amount of enjoyable if you set together with your meal one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, a wealthy wine known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and spouse.

Plus, in the Columbia eatery, the sangria would be to perish for. Seriously, referring by cup you could additionally divide a pitcher of white or purple sangria with a date to increase the eating experience. Amply large cuts of fruit float in drink and infuse it with rich tastes. Whether you are ordering this classic sangria or one of the cafe’s family members wines, the high-caliber beverages dont let you down.

Michael informed united states the group can make an endeavor to offer affordable however quality wines to whet visitors’ appetites. “All of our wine variety ought to be perfectly suited to the meal we serve as well as your cost,” he mentioned.

Many partners & groups have actually Shared particular times Here

When I think of the Columbia, i do believe associated with night we chose to have dessert for lunch, and my personal parents ordered churros, crucial lime pie, mango mousse cake, white candy loaves of bread dessert, and five spoons. I do believe of my twin brother trying grouper the very first time on all of our 20th birthday and claiming excitedly, “Take my photo” because the guy wanted to program their girlfriend (that’s today his spouse) which he loved taking fish around she performed.

In a lot of means, the Columbia is like all of our place, but my family is not the only real family members for generated thoughts only at that cafe and its six sister places across Fl. Men and women reach the restaurant whatsoever phases of life as it provides a unique atmosphere that sets really with any celebration.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be repeated visitors of Columbia during the early 1950s. The Columbia personnel paid tribute with the pair plus the loving thoughts they provided from the cafe by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed blend of tenderloin ideas, boneless chicken, shrimp, and pork — is actually a delicious reminder for the very long history of love from inside the Columbia’s eating areas.

Whether you are taking place an initial time or remembering a marriage anniversary, you will discover intimacy and enthusiasm flourish in the comfortable candlelight of the Columbia Restaurant.

“It’s a objectives,” Michael said, “for individuals feel like the Columbia is the place to get to commemorate existence’s milestones.”

The Columbia eatery offers household standards into Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with genuine meals, divine atmospheres, and personable solution. The computers, no less than at all of our Columbia in Sand Key, focus on their particular visitors and are usually quick to express “Welcome right back” to faithful consumers who, like my children, are time for the stylish eating spaces again and again.

This long-standing eating place features expanded and changed in the decades, nonetheless it never forgotten about the century-long family sources. Richard has ambitious intentions to serve diners and daters throughout Florida inside many years to come. “Our manager doesn’t rest,” Michael said with a laugh. “He’s always dreaming up new things.”

The Columbia group intends to start at the very least two brand-new restaurants in following years. One will end up being conveniently located correct down the street from the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open up in autumn 2018, will probably pay honor to a little village in Sicily in which a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants came from — the real selection aims to deliver these family members a tasty reminder of residence.

Enduring leadership and top quality types make Columbia Restaurant as well as the sibling restaurants genuinely impressive locations where singles and lovers can invest a night together with those they love best.