The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Fl’s Oldest Restaurant Produces a lovely Background For Your Intimate Times

The Quick Version: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually supported Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and products that represent a long-standing genealogy and family history. Established by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains a local preferred because of its old-fashioned meals and personable service. Over time, people from all over the world came into glamorous restaurant to commemorate engagements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, also monumental times. Nowadays, the fourth and fifth years with the family members owns and operates 13 different restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re searching for okay dining with a good conventional family experience, you’ll be able to reserve a table in stunning and passionate dining rooms associated with Columbia eatery.


For the past three decades, my children’s favorite destination has-been an oceanfront resort in Sand Key, Florida. We have now eliminated truth be told there over 12 instances to construct mud castles, spot whales, and eat tasty meals on patios ignoring the gulf.

We’ve thoroughly explored the town’s restaurant selection, looking around out the most readily useful regional joints about, but it merely very happens that one restaurant all of us enjoy a lot of is within taking walks range of one’s resort. The Columbia eatery’s white linen tablecloths, conscious solution, and mouth-watering meals create all of our go-to spot for supper.

As soon as we were kids, my parents would get you a mozzarella cheese pizza as they went to this enchanting Spanish restaurant by yourself; but we currently enjoy tapas and wine as much as they carry out, so we’ve begun crashing their particular date night — sometimes providing along times in our own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery provides wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world atmosphere. Even though it’s the earliest restaurant in Florida, the business is still run by descendants on the original president. Every product from the diet plan provides a tale behind it, and many associated with the recipes currently transmitted from one generation with the Hernandez Gonzmart family members to another. Family tradition is an enormous a portion of the Columbia’s diet plan, background, and way of solution.

“the employees can be somewhat like family,” said Michael Kilgore, the main promotion Officer for your Columbia. “quite a few staff members stay for 20 or 30 years. The things we like about our group is how much time they stick to united states. They are available here in order to find a house.”

You may enjoy this comfy and pleasant environment on your next date night by going to any of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia eatery presently acts guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you’re sipping wine on a picturesque balcony or watching flamenco dancers light the level although you take in tapas, you’re sure to have a memorable night from the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can locate their history to Dec. 17, 1903 — similar time the Wright brothers successfully tried the planet’s first plane. That was whenever a Cuban immigrant known as Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began running a saloon for a nearby making organization in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business owner turned the saloon into a well known 60-seat cafe noted for its genuine Cuban coffee and sandwiches. Soon after his achievements, Casimiro ordered a cafe or restaurant across the street and switched it into an attractive dining area. In 1930, his child got over control and procedure from the flourishing bistro.

During Great Depression, his boy Casimiro Jr. created the very first air-conditioned dining room in Tampa. The guy hoped its upscale look and elevated dance flooring would draw individuals the restaurant which help all of them forget their particular concerns for a night. The Don Quixote place had been a success, together with Columbia was able to keep their doorways open while many some other businesses collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia on to their sole youngster, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an experienced musician who had met the woman spouse, Cesar Gonzmart, on Tampa restaurant. This theatrical pair delivered entertainment and art into Columbia, developing a showroom that hosted a lot of talented Latin dancers and performers. Under Adela and Cesar’s authority, the Columbia extended to Sarasota as well as other locations in Florida.

Nowadays, certainly Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and held his family members’ company going. Richard Gonzmart was working at his family’s restaurants since he had been 12 years old, very he or she is closely knowledgeable about the atmosphere and background. Richard can in fact point out the table within Columbia eatery in which he along with his spouse had their own first day over 43 years ago.

“There’s a lot of romance right here, therefore have a fantastic tale,” stated Michael. “Less than 15 restaurants in the usa tend to be family-owned and more than a century outdated, therefore we’re in pretty elite organization.”

Fl’s oldest cafe features a satisfied and enduring background rooted in food, household, and enjoyable. Michael told you the fifth generation of the founding family is now being groomed to take control someday. Richard’s daughters and nephew have taken on effective management parts at the restaurants and are generally prepared to keep carefully the family members heritage going for more a long time.

The Columbia happens to be acknowledged with a few from the greatest honours inside the cafe business, including induction into country’s Restaurant Information’ “Fine eating Hall of popularity,” made the “notable Restaurants of America (SiRoNA) honor of Excellence,” Florida Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence.”

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

The Columbia eatery establishes a lavish table and provides a delightful escape from everyday life. It seduces the sensory faculties as soon as you walk in the doors. You are in the middle of greenery, drinking water fountains, and artwork as the noise of fun while the smells of new fish meals waft through the atmosphere. Before my purchase even reaches myself, my personal mouth area is always watering with anticipation. Thank goodness, each visitor will get his / her own newly produced loaf of Cuban bread, thus I have actually one thing to fulfill my taste buds while I wait.

The 14-page diet plan is filled with great meals but additionally provides simple talk starters for daters only observing one another. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert boasts an enticing information along with interesting back ground info. Such as, the restaurant’s coconut frozen dessert was actually a popular of ice-cream entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the third son from the initial Columbia creator, and today this sweet meal is actually offered in his respect.

From the vegetarian paella (Spanish rice blended with hearty veggies) towards shrimp supreme (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foods in the Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable plates, labeled as tapas, make this cafe well suited for lovers on a night out together since you will come better together by revealing tiny dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. You can easily generate a budget-friendly dinner by purchasing a few of those appetizers collectively — remember to save lots of place for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros would be a great option for lovers since they are tactile, nice, and just somewhat messy. You can easily drop the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s a little for everybody. Additionally, Columbia’s trademark White Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent dessert perfect for splitting with a romantic date who has got a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler web log called the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s leading date-night places, motivating couples to “start off with Columbia’s famous 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, and then share a huge plate of this Paella a la Valenciana, full of shellfish, fragrant grain, and chorizo.”

The intimate night will be-all more pleasurable in the event that you pair with your meal a glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a wealthy wine known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and wife.

Plus, during the Columbia eatery, the sangria should die for. Honestly, referring by the cup but you can also split a pitcher of white or yellow sangria with a night out together to boost the dinner knowledge. Generously big pieces of good fresh fruit float inside drink and infuse it with rich tastes. Whether you’re buying this traditional sangria or among the many bistro’s household wines, the high-caliber beverages usually do not let you down.

Michael informed you the group makes an attempt to offer affordable yet quality wines to whet visitors’ appetites. “our very own wine option should be completely suited to the meals we offer as well as your price,” the guy stated.

Countless partners & groups have actually Shared particular times Here

When In my opinion on the Columbia, In my opinion on the evening we decided to have dessert for supper, and my personal moms and dads purchased churros, essential lime pie, mango mousse meal, white candy breads dessert, and five spoons. In my opinion of my personal twin-brother attempting grouper for the first time on all of our twentieth birthday and stating excitedly, “simply take my photo” because he planned to reveal his girlfriend (that is now his spouse) that he loved eating fish everything she performed.

In plenty techniques, the Columbia feels like our very own location, but my children is not the actual only real household having made thoughts only at that cafe as well as its six sister areas across Florida. Men and women started to the restaurant after all phases of existence as it provides an unique environment that sets really with any special event.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be regular friends for the Columbia during the early 1950s. The Columbia staff settled tribute on the few additionally the enjoying memories they shared at cafe by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin guidelines, boneless chicken white meat, shrimp, and chicken — is a delicious indication on the very long reputation of romance inside the Columbia’s dining areas.

Whether you’re going on a primary go out or remembering a wedding anniversary, you will find intimacy and enthusiasm achieve the soft candlelight associated with Columbia eatery.

“It is a targets,” Michael stated, “getting folks feel like the Columbia is the perfect place to come quickly to celebrate life’s goals.”

The Columbia Restaurant has Family standards to your Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with genuine meals, divine atmospheres, and personable service. The servers, at least at our Columbia in Sand Key, look closely at their particular visitors consequently they are quick to state “Welcome back” to loyal clients exactly who, like my children, end up returning to the stylish dining rooms over repeatedly.

This long-standing dining establishment has cultivated and altered through the entire many years, but it hasn’t disregarded the century-long family roots. Richard features challenging intends to provide diners and daters throughout Florida when you look at the a long time. “our very own manager doesn’t sleep,” Michael said with a laugh. “He’s constantly thinking up something new.”

The Columbia staff intentions to open at the least two brand new restaurants from inside the coming many years. One will be conveniently positioned correct next door through the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to open in fall 2018, will probably pay homage to limited community in Sicily in which most Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants emerged from — the authentic selection aims to bring these family members a delicious indication of residence.

Suffering leadership and top quality tastes result in the Columbia eatery and all their sibling restaurants really impressive locations where singles and couples can spend an evening in the company of those they love finest.