The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Florida’s Oldest Eatery Creates a Beautiful Backdrop For The Intimate Minutes

The small variation: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant provides offered Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and beverages that represent a long-standing family history. Started by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains a nearby favorite due to its standard foods and friendly service. Over time, individuals from all around the globe came into glamorous cafe to celebrate involvements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, as well as other monumental moments. Today, the fourth and 5th generations associated with household owns and operates 13 different restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re searching for okay food with a decent traditional family feel, you’ll reserve a table in stunning and romantic dinner areas in the Columbia eatery.


For the past 30 years, my loved ones’s favored destination was an oceanfront hotel in Sand Key, Florida. We have now gone there over a dozen instances to build sand castles, area whales, and consume delicious dishes on patios overlooking the gulf.

There is carefully explored the town’s bistro variety, looking around from the most readily useful regional joints about, it simply very happens that one cafe most of us enjoy a lot of is actually within taking walks length your resort. The Columbia eatery’s white-linen tablecloths, conscious service, and mouth-watering meals ensure it is our very own go-to place for lunch.

Once we were kids, my parents would order us a mozzarella cheese pizza while they visited this romantic Spanish restaurant by yourself; but we now enjoy tapas and drink as much while they carry out, therefore we’ve started crashing their particular date night — occasionally delivering along dates of one’s own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world ambiance. Although itis the oldest bistro in Fl, business is still operated from the descendants associated with the original president. Every item on diet plan provides a tale behind it, and lots of from the recipes were passed from one generation in the Hernandez Gonzmart family to another. Family tradition is an enormous part of the Columbia’s menu, history, and way of service.

“the employees can also be some like household,” said Michael Kilgore, the Chief advertising Officer for Columbia. “quite a few employees stay for 20 or 30 years. One of many circumstances we like about our party is actually the length of time they stick with you. They come right here and locate a house.”

You may enjoy this comfortable and inviting environment in your after that night out by going to any of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia eatery at this time acts guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you’re drinking drink on a picturesque balcony or seeing flamenco performers illuminate the level although you eat tapas, you are sure to have an unforgettable night within Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can trace its history back into Dec. 17, 1903 — exactly the same day the Wright brothers effectively tried worldwide’s basic plane. That was whenever a Cuban immigrant called Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began running a saloon for a nearby making company in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious entrepreneur switched the saloon into popular 60-seat cafe noted for its genuine Cuban coffee-and snacks. Following their success, Casimiro bought a restaurant next door and changed it into an attractive dining room. In 1930, his child got more than ownership and procedure on the thriving bistro.

Through the Great Depression, his daughter Casimiro Jr. built one air-conditioned dining room in Tampa. He hoped the trendy look and raised dance floor would draw people to the bistro which help all of them forget their particular worries for per night. The Don Quixote Room had been a success, and also the Columbia was able to hold the doorways open although additional businesses collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia on to their sole child, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an experienced artist who had satisfied the woman partner, Cesar Gonzmart, at the Tampa cafe. This theatrical set introduced activity and art into Columbia, developing a showroom that hosted a lot of skilled Latin dancers and musicians. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia extended to Sarasota alongside locations in Fl.

Nowadays, one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has brought the reins and kept his family members’ business going. Richard Gonzmart has become working at his family’s restaurants since he had been 12 years of age, so they are closely acquainted the environment and history. Richard can actually indicate the table at the Columbia Restaurant in which he along with his partner had their unique very first big date a lot more than 43 years ago.

“there’s lots of relationship right here, therefore we have outstanding story,” mentioned Michael. “around 15 restaurants in the us are family-owned and more than 100 years outdated, therefore we’re in pretty elite organization.”

Florida’s earliest cafe has a pleased and enduring background rooted in food, household, and fun. Michael informed all of us the 5th generation on the founding household is becoming groomed to take control one-day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have taken on productive management parts on restaurants and they are ready to maintain the family members heritage going for additional a long time.

The Columbia might recognized with of greatest honors in restaurant business, such as induction into Nation’s eatery News’ “great dinner Hall of Fame,” received the “notable Restaurants of the united states (SiRoNA) honor of quality,” Florida Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “Best of honor of Excellence.”

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

The Columbia eatery establishes a magnificent dining table and gives a delightful escape from everyday life. It seduces the sensory faculties as soon as you walk-in the doorways. You’re in the middle of greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork once the noises of fun as well as the scents of fresh fish and shellfish dishes waft through the environment. Before my purchase even reaches me, my lips is always watering with anticipation. Thank goodness, each guest will get his/her very own freshly generated loaf of Cuban breads, and so I have actually one thing to please my tastebuds while I wait.

The 14-page selection is filled with great food but additionally provides simple dialogue starters for daters simply learning the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert comes with an enticing description plus fascinating background info. Including, the restaurant’s coconut ice-cream was a favorite of frozen dessert entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the next child regarding the initial Columbia founder, now this sweet dish is actually offered in his honor.

Through the veggie paella (Spanish grain blended with hearty vegetables) into the shrimp supreme (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the meals on Columbia are bursting with flavor. The shareable dishes, also known as tapas, make this cafe well suited for partners on a night out together because you will come better together by revealing little dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. It’s easy to create a budget-friendly food by purchasing some of these appetizers collectively — keep in mind to truly save place for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros would-be a great selection for lovers because they’re tactile, nice, and just a little dirty. You’ll be able to drop the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s a little something for everybody. In addition, Columbia’s trademark light Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent treat ideal for splitting with a romantic date who may have a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site named the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s leading date-night areas, encouraging lovers to “begin with Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, right after which discuss a massive plate on the Paella a la Valenciana, full of shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo.”

Your enchanting evening will be-all the greater amount of pleasurable if you combine along with your dinner one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, a wealthy drink named after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and jack swagger wife.

Plus, in the Columbia Restaurant, the sangria is to perish for. Severely, referring by the glass you could in addition split a pitcher of white or red sangria with a romantic date to boost your dinner experience. Generously big cuts of fresh fruit drift when you look at the wine and infuse it with wealthy styles. Whether you are purchasing this traditional sangria or among the many restaurant’s household wines, the high-caliber beverages do not let you down.

Michael informed us the team helps make an endeavor to supply affordable yet top quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “the wine variety should always be perfectly suited to the meal we offer along with your cost,” the guy stated.

Many partners & groups Have Shared Special Moments Here

When i do believe from the Columbia, In my opinion regarding the night we decided to have treat for supper, and my moms and dads bought churros, crucial lime pie, mango mousse meal, white chocolate bread pudding, and five spoons. In my opinion of my twin brother trying grouper for the first time on all of our twentieth birthday and claiming excitedly, “Take my personal picture” because the guy desired to program his gf (who’s today their wife) that he enjoyed taking fish everything she did.

In plenty methods, the Columbia is like our destination, but my children actually truly the only household to have generated memories at the bistro and its own six sister locations across Florida. Folks reach the cafe at all phases of existence since it provides a particular atmosphere that pairs really with any function.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were constant friends in the Columbia in early 1950s. The Columbia employees paid tribute into the couple as well as the enjoying thoughts they shared from the restaurant by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin ideas, boneless chicken white meat, shrimp, and chicken — is a tasty note associated with the very long reputation for love when you look at the Columbia’s eating rooms.

Whether you are taking place a first day or celebrating a wedding anniversary, you’ll find closeness and passion flourish in the soft candlelight of the Columbia Restaurant.

“It’s one of the goals,” Michael said, “to possess individuals feel like the Columbia is the perfect place to come calmly to celebrate life’s milestones.”

The Columbia Restaurant offers group Values on Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with authentic dishes, divine atmospheres, and friendly service. The computers, at the least at our Columbia in Sand Key, pay attention to their unique visitors and are usually rapid to state “Welcome right back” to devoted customers who, like my children, end up returning to the stylish dining areas regularly.

This long-standing eating establishment provides cultivated and altered in the many years, but it never forgotten its century-long family members origins. Richard has ambitious intends to serve diners and daters throughout Fl inside the a long time. “our very own proprietor does not rest,” Michael mentioned with a laugh. “He’s always dreaming right up new things.”

The Columbia group intends to start about two brand-new restaurants from inside the impending years. One will be conveniently situated appropriate down the street through the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open in fall 2018, pay respect to a tiny village in Sicily in which most Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the real eating plan will deliver these family members a delicious reminder of residence.

Suffering leadership and top quality types improve Columbia Restaurant and all their aunt restaurants genuinely remarkable locations where singles and partners can spend an evening in the company of those they like most useful.