The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Fl’s Oldest Restaurant Produces a Beautiful Backdrop For The Intimate Moments

The Short variation: Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has actually supported Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and products that express a long-standing genealogy and family history. Started by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains a nearby favored due to the standard meals and personable service. Over time, folks from world-wide came on glamorous bistro to commemorate engagements, anniversaries, birthdays, alongside monumental minutes. Today, the fourth and fifth years in the household possesses and functions 13 different restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for good eating with a good traditional family sense, it is possible to reserve a table in stunning and enchanting dinner spaces from the Columbia eatery.


Over the past three decades, my children’s preferred holiday destination has-been an oceanfront hotel in Sand Key, Florida. We have now eliminated truth be told there over several instances to create mud castles, place whales, and eat delicious dinners on patios overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

We carefully investigated the town’s bistro choice, looking around the actual greatest regional joints around, it just thus takes place that the one cafe everyone enjoy many is actually within walking length of your resort. The Columbia Restaurant’s white-linen tablecloths, attentive service, and mouth-watering food enable it to be our very own go-to area for lunch.

Once we were children, my personal moms and dads would order all of us a cheese pizza pie as they visited this enchanting Spanish bistro by yourself; however, we now enjoy tapas and drink as much while they perform, therefore we’ve begun crashing their unique night out — sometimes getting along dates in our very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world ambiance. Though it’s the oldest cafe in Fl, business is still operated because of the descendants for the original creator. Every object from the diet plan features a story behind it, and many of meals happen transmitted from one generation of this Hernandez Gonzmart household to another. Household heritage is an enormous a portion of the Columbia’s diet plan, record, and method of service.

“The staff can be somewhat like household,” said Michael Kilgore, the main advertising Officer for Columbia. “a number of our workers remain for 20 or three decades. The situations we like about all of our class is just how long they stick to all of us. They show up right here and locate property.”

You may enjoy this comfortable and inviting atmosphere in your next night out by visiting any of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant at this time acts friends in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and party. Whether you are drinking wine on a picturesque balcony or viewing flamenco dancers light up the period although you eat tapas, you’re 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 history back again to Dec. 17, 1903 — exactly the same day the Wright brothers successfully tried the entire world’s basic airplane. That has been when a Cuban immigrant known as Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began running a saloon for a nearby preparing company in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person turned the saloon into a prominent 60-seat cafe noted for the authentic Cuban coffee-and snacks. Soon after his success, Casimiro purchased a cafe or restaurant across the street and changed it into a gorgeous kitchen. In 1930, their boy got more than control and operation of this thriving cafe.

Through the Great anxiety, his son Casimiro Jr. created 1st air-conditioned dining room in Tampa. He hoped their upscale appearance and raised dance flooring would draw men and women to the cafe and help all of them forget about their unique fears for a night. The Don Quixote Room ended up being popular, while the Columbia was able to hold its doors available while many different businesses folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia on to his only youngster, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an established artist who’d came across the woman husband, Cesar Gonzmart, at Tampa bistro. This theatrical pair brought entertainment and art into the Columbia, establishing a showroom that hosted a lot of talented Latin performers and performers. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota as well as other areas in Florida.

Nowadays, among Adela and Cesar’s two sons has brought the reins and kept their family members’ company heading. Richard Gonzmart has-been working at his family members’ restaurants since he was 12 years of age, very they are closely knowledgeable about their atmosphere and history. Richard may actually point out the dining table from the Columbia eatery where the guy and his wife had their first date a lot more than 43 in years past.

“there are many relationship right here, and we also have a fantastic story,” stated Michael. “lower than 15 restaurants in the United States tend to be family-owned and more than 100 years old, therefore we’re in pretty elite business.”

Florida’s oldest bistro features a proud and enduring history grounded on food, family, and enjoyable. Michael told united states the fifth generation with the founding family members is being groomed to take control of eventually. Richard’s daughters and nephew took in effective control functions within restaurants as they are prepared to keep consitently the family practice opting for many more many years to come.

The Columbia was acknowledged with a few for the highest awards in bistro industry, such as induction into Nation’s eatery News’ “good eating Hall of Fame,” obtained the “Distinguished Restaurants of America (SiRoNA) honor of quality,” 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 lavish table and a wonderful escape from daily life. It seduces the sensory faculties from the moment you walk-in the doorways. You’re in the middle of greenery, water fountains, and artwork since noise of laughter additionally the smells of fresh seafood meals waft through air. Before my personal order actually gets to me, my personal mouth is always watering with expectation. Luckily, each guest becomes his or her own recently produced loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, so I have actually something you should satisfy my taste buds while I wait.

The 14-page menu is full of good meals and supplies effortless conversation starters for daters just observing one another. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert comes with an enticing description plus interesting history details. For example, the cafe’s coconut ice-cream was actually a well liked of ice-cream business owner Gustavo Hernandez, the next daughter in the original Columbia president, and after this this nice recipe is served within his respect.

From the veggie paella (Spanish rice combined with satisfying vegetables) into the shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foodstuffs at the Columbia are bursting with flavor. The shareable dishes, labeled as tapas, make this cafe ideal for couples on a romantic date because you can come closer with each other by sharing tiny dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. You can easily generate a budget-friendly dinner by buying several of those appetizers together — remember to truly save place for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros might be an excellent selection for couples because they’re tactile, nice, and merely only a little dirty. You can drop the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s something for everybody. Plus, Columbia’s signature light Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent treat perfect for splitting with a date who may have a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler web log called the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night areas, encouraging lovers to “start off with Columbia’s well-known 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, and discuss an enormous plate of this Paella a la Valenciana, full of shellfish, fragrant grain, and chorizo.”

Your own romantic night will be all the greater satisfying should you combine with your food a glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a rich wine known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and partner.

Plus, at the Columbia Restaurant, the sangria is always to perish for. Really, it comes because of the cup but you can in addition separate a pitcher of white or red-colored sangria with a date to improve your dining knowledge. Generously huge cuts of fruit drift within the drink and infuse it with rich styles. Whether you’re purchasing this traditional sangria or among the many restaurant’s household wines, the high-caliber drinks dont let you down.

Michael told us the group makes an attempt to offer affordable but high quality wines to whet guests’ appetites. “Our drink variety must perfectly fitted to the meals we provide as well as your selling price,” he stated.

Many partners & groups Have Shared specialized times Here

When i do believe associated with the Columbia, In my opinion of this evening we chose to have dessert for supper, and my moms and dads ordered churros, essential lime pie, mango mousse meal, white candy bread dessert, and five spoons. In my opinion of my personal twin brother attempting grouper the very first time on our very own 20th birthday celebration and stating excitedly, “Take my personal image” because the guy desired to reveal his girl (who is now his spouse) which he enjoyed eating fish just as much as she performed.

In plenty techniques, the Columbia feels like our place, but my children isn’t really the sole family having generated recollections at the restaurant and its six sister places across Fl. Men and women reach the cafe at all stages of life since it supplies a particular environment that pairs well with any gathering.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had been frequent visitors of this Columbia in the early 1950s. The Columbia employees settled tribute to the pair and the warm recollections they shared at the restaurant by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed combination of tenderloin recommendations, boneless chicken, shrimp, and chicken — is actually a delicious note of the very long reputation of love during the Columbia’s eating spaces.

Whether you are taking place an initial date or remembering a marriage anniversary, you’ll find closeness and passion flourish in the gentle candlelight associated with Columbia eatery.

“It really is our objectives,” Michael mentioned, “for individuals feel as if the Columbia is the place to come to commemorate life’s goals.”

The Columbia eatery offers group Values with the Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with genuine dishes, divine atmospheres, and friendly solution. The machines, at least at our Columbia in Sand Key, watch their particular visitors and they are fast to state “Welcome right back” to devoted clients whom, like my family, find themselves returning to the classy dining spaces over and over repeatedly.

This long-standing food business has expanded and altered in the many years, nevertheless never disregarded their century-long family members sources. Richard features challenging intentions to provide diners and daters throughout Fl inside a long time. “our very own owner doesn’t rest,” Michael mentioned with a laugh. “he is usually dreaming upwards something totally new.”

The Columbia team intentions to open up at the least two brand-new restaurants in the upcoming decades. One will end up being easily located correct next door from the original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open up in autumn 2018, will pay honor to a tiny town in Sicily in which a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the genuine menu is designed to bring these individuals a delicious reminder of house.

Suffering management and high quality types improve Columbia Restaurant as well as the sis restaurants really amazing spots in which singles and lovers can invest a night with those they like most useful.