The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Fl’s Oldest Eatery Produces an attractive Backdrop For The Romantic Minutes

The brief type: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually offered 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 nearby preferred because of its traditional meals and personable service. Over the years, people from worldwide attended to your glamorous cafe to celebrate involvements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and other monumental minutes. Nowadays, the 4th and fifth generations associated with family owns and functions 13 various restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re searching for fine dinner with a good traditional family sense, possible reserve a table within the spectacular and romantic eating areas of the Columbia eatery.


For the past three decades, my family’s favored vacation destination is an oceanfront hotel in Sand Key, Florida. We’ve gone here over twelve times to construct mud castles, place dolphins, and consume delicious meals on patios overlooking the gulf.

We’ve completely explored the city’s restaurant choice, looking around out of the finest regional bones about, it only very takes place the one cafe we all enjoy a lot of is actually within taking walks distance of our hotel. The Columbia eatery’s white-linen tablecloths, mindful service, and mouth-watering food allow it to be all of our go-to place for supper.

When we happened to be young ones, my parents would purchase us a parmesan cheese pizza as they went to this passionate Spanish restaurant by yourself; but we currently enjoy tapas and wine just as much as they perform, therefore we’ve started crashing their date night — often taking along times your very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world ambiance. Even though itis the earliest bistro in Fl, the organization is still run because of the descendants in the original founder. Every item from the diet plan has actually a story behind it, and several with the dishes have been handed over from one generation for the Hernandez Gonzmart family members to the next. Family members heritage is a large the main Columbia’s menu, background, and way of service.

“The staff normally quite like family members,” said Michael Kilgore, the main promotional Officer when it comes down to Columbia. “Many of our staff remain for 20 or three decades. Among things we like about our team is actually how much time they stick to you. They arrive here and discover a property.”

You can enjoy this comfortable and welcoming atmosphere on your own then night out by visiting any of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia eatery currently acts visitors in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater seashore, and party. Whether you are drinking drink on a picturesque balcony or viewing flamenco performers light the phase even though you consume tapas, you are certain to have a memorable night from the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can trace the background returning to Dec. 17, 1903 — alike day the Wright brothers effectively tried globally’s first aircraft. That was whenever a Cuban immigrant called Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began operating a saloon for a nearby making business in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person turned the saloon into a well known 60-seat cafe noted for the real Cuban coffee-and snacks. Soon after his success, Casimiro ordered a restaurant next door and switched it into a gorgeous dining area. In 1930, his boy got more than possession and procedure for the flourishing cafe.

Throughout the Great Depression, his child Casimiro Jr. built 1st air-conditioned kitchen in Tampa. He hoped its upscale look and raised dancing floor would draw people to the bistro which help all of them forget their particular concerns for a night. The Don Quixote area was actually a hit, and Columbia managed to keep their doorways open even though many various other organizations folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia on to their only child, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished musician who’d met the woman spouse, Cesar Gonzmart, during the Tampa restaurant. This theatrical pair delivered entertainment and artistry towards Columbia, establishing a showroom that managed a lot of talented Latin dancers and musicians. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota as well as other areas in Fl.

Today, one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and kept their family’s company heading. Richard Gonzmart was working at his family members’ restaurants since he was 12 yrs old, thus he could be intimately familiar with its atmosphere and record. Richard can point to the table at the Columbia Restaurant where the guy along with his wife had their first big date significantly more than 43 in years past.

“there are many love here, and now we have a good story,” said Michael. “not as much as 15 restaurants in the usa tend to be family-owned and most 100 years old, therefore we’re in pretty elite company.”

Florida’s earliest restaurant has actually a proud and enduring record rooted in food, family, and fun. Michael informed united states the 5th generation for the founding household is now becoming groomed to take over eventually. Richard’s daughters and nephew have chosen to take in energetic control functions during the restaurants and are generally prepared maintain household practice going for numerous years to come.

The Columbia has been known which includes for the greatest honors inside the cafe industry, including induction into Nation’s Restaurant Information’ “good food Hall of popularity,” gained the “Distinguished Restaurants of united states (SiRoNA) Award of Excellence,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “Best of honor of quality.”

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

The Columbia eatery establishes a magnificent dining table and offers a wonderful getting away from everyday activity. It seduces the sensory faculties from the moment you walk in the doorways. You are surrounded by greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork as sounds of laughter in addition to scents of fresh fish and shellfish meals waft through atmosphere. Before my personal order also reaches me personally, my personal throat is watering with anticipation. Luckily, each visitor will get his or her own newly produced loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, therefore I have actually something to fulfill my preferences while I wait.

The 14-page diet plan is full of great food but supplies effortless discussion starters for daters merely learning one another. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat is sold with an enticing description in addition to fascinating background information. For example, the cafe’s coconut ice cream ended up being a preferred of frozen dessert business person Gustavo Hernandez, the next child for the original Columbia creator, and today this nice recipe is served within his respect.

Through the vegetarian paella (Spanish grain mixed with satisfying vegetables) to your shrimp supreme (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the foods within Columbia are bursting with taste. The shareable dishes, called tapas, get this restaurant suitable for lovers on a date since you will come better together by revealing little dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. It is simple to make a budget-friendly dinner by purchasing some of the appetizers collectively — remember to save lots of room for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros is a great selection for couples because they’re tactile, nice, and simply only a little dirty. You’ll dip the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s a little for everyone. Plus, Columbia’s signature light Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent treat ideal for splitting with a date who has got a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site known as the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night places, encouraging partners to “focus on Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, immediately after which discuss an enormous platter in the Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo.”

Your romantic night will be all the greater amount of pleasurable in the event that you set together with your meal one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a refreshing drink called after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and wife.

Plus, at the Columbia eatery, the sangria is die for. Severely, referring because of the glass you could in addition separate a pitcher of white or purple sangria with a date to increase the eating experience. Generously large cuts of fresh fruit drift within the drink and infuse it with rich types. Whether you’re purchasing this traditional sangria or among the many cafe’s family wines, the high-caliber beverages cannot let you down.

Michael told us the team makes an endeavor to offer inexpensive yet quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “Our wine variety should be perfectly suited to the food we serve plus cost,” he stated.

Countless partners & groups Have Shared particular Moments Here

When i do believe with the Columbia, In my opinion regarding the evening we made a decision to have dessert for lunch, and my parents bought churros, important lime pie, mango mousse dessert, white chocolate loaves of bread dessert, and five spoons. I do believe of my personal twin brother trying grouper the very first time on the 20th birthday celebration and saying excitedly, “get my personal picture” because he desired to program his gf (that is today their wife) he loved eating fish as much as she performed.

In numerous ways, the Columbia feels as though all of our spot, but my loved ones isn’t really the sole family having produced memories during that bistro and its six sister places across Florida. Folks arrive at the restaurant anyway stages of life because it provides an unique environment that pairs really with any special event.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had been repeated friends for the Columbia in the early 1950s. The Columbia employees settled tribute toward pair therefore the warm thoughts they shared during the cafe by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin recommendations, boneless chicken, shrimp, and chicken — is actually a delicious reminder in the long reputation for relationship inside the Columbia’s eating areas.

Whether you’re going on a primary big date or honoring a wedding anniversary, you will discover closeness and enthusiasm achieve the soft candlelight from the Columbia Restaurant.

“It is our targets,” Michael stated, “having individuals feel like the Columbia is where to get to commemorate life’s goals.”

The Columbia eatery Brings household standards to your Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with real dishes, divine atmospheres, and friendly service. The servers, at the least at the Columbia in Sand Key, look closely at their unique guests and are rapid to express “Welcome back” to faithful clients whom, like my children, end up going back to the stylish eating spaces again and again.

This long-standing dinner establishment has actually grown and altered through the decades, nonetheless it never forgotten its century-long family members roots. Richard features ambitious intends to provide diners and daters throughout Fl within the a long time. “the holder does not rest,” Michael said with fun. “he is always fantasizing right up something totally new.”

The Columbia group plans to start at the least two brand-new restaurants inside the impending many years. One will end up being conveniently found appropriate next door from the original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to open up in autumn 2018, will pay homage to a tiny town in Sicily where most Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants came from — the genuine eating plan aims to bring these individuals a tasty indication of house.

Suffering leadership and high quality styles result in the Columbia Restaurant and all its sibling restaurants truly remarkable places where singles and partners can invest a night together with those they like finest.


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