The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Fl’s Oldest Restaurant Produces a lovely Backdrop For The Passionate Moments

The Quick Version: Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has actually supported Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and beverages that portray a long-standing genealogy and family history. Started by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia stays a nearby favorite due to its conventional ingredients and personable service. Throughout the years, individuals from all over the globe came on the attractive restaurant to celebrate engagements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and various other monumental minutes. Nowadays, the fourth and fifth generations of family members is the owner of and operates 13 different restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re looking for great eating with a good conventional family experience, you’ll reserve a table inside the spectacular and passionate eating areas of the Columbia Restaurant.


Over the past 3 decades, my family’s favored destination was an oceanfront resort in Sand Key, Florida. We have now eliminated indeed there over several times to construct sand castles, spot dolphins, and consume delicious meals on patios overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

We have carefully explored town’s restaurant selection, looking around out of the finest neighborhood bones around, nonetheless it merely thus occurs your one cafe we all enjoy most is within strolling distance your resort. The Columbia eatery’s white linen tablecloths, conscious service, and mouth-watering food ensure it is our very own go-to spot for dinner.

As soon as we happened to be children, my personal moms and dads would order you a cheese pizza even though they visited this romantic Spanish cafe by yourself; however, we now enjoy tapas and wine as much while they carry out, therefore we’ve started crashing their unique date night — occasionally getting along dates of your own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world ambiance. Although itis the earliest restaurant in Florida, the company still is operated by the descendants regarding the original president. Every product from the eating plan has actually a tale behind it, and many of the dishes currently transmitted from one generation on the Hernandez Gonzmart family members to the next. Household practice is an enormous area of the Columbia’s menu, history, and approach to solution.

“the employees can be a little like family members,” stated Michael Kilgore, the main promotional Officer for the Columbia. “quite a few staff members remain for 20 or three decades. Among the many situations we like about our very own team is actually how much time they stick to all of us. They arrive here and locate a house.”

You may enjoy this comfy and inviting environment on your own next date night by going to any one of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant presently serves guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and party. Whether you are sipping wine on a picturesque balcony or seeing flamenco dancers light up the phase although you take in tapas, you’re certain to have a memorable night during the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can trace their background back into Dec. 17, 1903 — exactly the same time the Wright brothers successfully tried the whole world’s basic aircraft. That has been when a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began working a saloon for an area preparing organization in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business owner turned the saloon into a popular 60-seat cafe noted for its real Cuban coffee and snacks. Following his achievements, Casimiro purchased a restaurant nearby and switched it into an attractive kitchen. In 1930, his boy got over control and procedure regarding the thriving bistro.

During Great Depression, their son Casimiro Jr. created the initial air-conditioned kitchen in Tampa. The guy hoped its trendy look and raised dance floor would draw men and women to the bistro and help them forget about their particular concerns for per night. The Don Quixote place ended up being a winner, while the Columbia managed to hold their doorways open even though many additional businesses collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia on to his just kid, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an established musician who had satisfied her husband, Cesar Gonzmart, on Tampa restaurant. This theatrical set delivered activity and art towards the Columbia, creating a showroom that hosted lots of skilled Latin performers and musicians. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota alongside places in Florida.

Today, among Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and kept his family members’ company heading. Richard Gonzmart has become working at their family’s restaurants since he had been 12 yrs old, so he or she is closely familiar with its environment and background. Richard can indicate the dining table at the Columbia Restaurant in which the guy and his girlfriend had their unique basic time a lot more than 43 years back.

“There’s a lot of romance here, and we have actually an excellent tale,” mentioned Michael. “lower than 15 restaurants in the us tend to be family-owned and more than 100 years outdated, so we’re in pretty elite business.”

Fl’s oldest restaurant features a pleased and enduring history grounded on food, household, and enjoyable. Michael told us the fifth generation on the founding family members is being groomed to take control one-day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have taken in energetic control parts during the restaurants and they are willing to keep carefully the family practice going for more many years to come.

The Columbia has become recognized with many for the highest prizes for the bistro business, including induction into Nation’s Restaurant Information’ “good eating Hall of popularity,” obtained the “notable Restaurants of America (SiRoNA) honor of Excellence,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “better of honor of quality.”

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

The Columbia eatery establishes a luxurious table and gives a wonderful escape from everyday activity. It seduces your own sensory faculties from the moment you walk-in the doors. You are in the middle of greenery, liquid fountains, and artwork because sounds of fun therefore the odors of fresh fish and shellfish meals waft through the environment. Before my personal order also gets to me, my personal lips is always watering with anticipation. Fortunately, each visitor becomes their own freshly produced loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, so I have actually something you should meet lesbian women my preferences while I wait.

The 14-page menu is filled with good food but additionally supplies easy conversation beginners for daters only learning the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert includes an enticing explanation in addition to fascinating back ground information. For instance, the bistro’s coconut ice-cream was actually a popular of ice cream business person Gustavo Hernandez, the next daughter associated with the initial Columbia founder, now this nice recipe is offered in the honor.

From veggie paella (Spanish grain blended with satisfying greens) to the shrimp supreme (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foodstuffs at Columbia are bursting with flavor. The shareable dishes, labeled as tapas, get this restaurant ideal for lovers on a date because you can come better with each other by sharing tiny dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. It is possible to create a budget-friendly dinner by purchasing multiple of the appetizers together — just remember to save lots of area for treat!

The Très Amigos churros could well be an excellent option for lovers since they are tactile, sweet, and merely somewhat dirty. You’ll dip the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s a little for all. Plus, Columbia’s trademark White Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent treat perfect for splitting with a date who’s a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site known as the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s leading date-night areas, encouraging lovers to “start out with Columbia’s well-known 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, immediately after which discuss an enormous plate for the Paella a la Valenciana, full of shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo.”

Your own intimate evening will be-all the greater amount of pleasurable should you set with your meal one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a refreshing wine known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and partner.

Plus, on Columbia eatery, the sangria is always to die for. Severely, it comes from the cup but you can in addition separate a pitcher of white or reddish sangria with a night out together to increase your dinner knowledge. Nicely large slices of fresh fruit float during the drink and infuse it with rich tastes. Whether you’re purchasing this classic sangria or among the many bistro’s family members wines, the high-caliber drinks you should never let you down.

Michael told all of us the group helps make an effort to provide affordable but high quality wines to whet visitors’ appetites. “our very own drink choice needs to be perfectly suited to the meal we serve and your cost,” he stated.

Many partners & Families Have Shared Special times Here

When In my opinion in the Columbia, i believe regarding the evening we decided to have dessert for dinner, and my parents ordered churros, essential lime pie, mango mousse dessert, white chocolate loaves of bread dessert, and five spoons. I think of my twin brother trying grouper the very first time on our very own 20th birthday celebration and stating excitedly, “Take my picture” because the guy desired to show his sweetheart (that’s today their spouse) which he loved taking in fish approximately she did.

In numerous steps, the Columbia feels like the destination, but my children isn’t truly the only household for produced memories during this cafe and its particular six sister locations across Florida. Men and women started to the restaurant after all phases of existence since it supplies an unique atmosphere that pairs really with any gathering.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were regular guests of Columbia in early 1950s. The Columbia staff members settled tribute into the couple while the warm memories they provided from the bistro by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin recommendations, boneless chicken, shrimp, and pork — is actually a tasty indication associated with very long reputation of relationship from inside the Columbia’s eating rooms.

Whether you’re taking place an initial big date or honoring a marriage anniversary, you will discover closeness and passion flourish in the smooth candlelight regarding the Columbia Restaurant.

“It really is one of our targets,” Michael stated, “to possess folks feel like the Columbia is where to get to celebrate existence’s goals.”

The Columbia eatery Brings household standards on the Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with genuine meals, divine atmospheres, and friendly service. The machines, at the very least at our Columbia in Sand Key, pay attention to their friends and they are rapid to say “Welcome right back” to devoted clients who, like my children, are going back to the stylish dining rooms regularly.

This long-standing dinner place provides grown and altered for the decades, nonetheless it hasn’t ever disregarded the century-long family members sources. Richard has actually bold intentions to offer diners and daters throughout Florida within the a long time. “our very own holder doesn’t sleep,” Michael mentioned with fun. “he is always thinking right up something new.”

The Columbia staff intentions to open up at least two brand new restaurants inside coming many years. One will be conveniently situated right down the street from original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to start in fall 2018, can pay respect to limited community in Sicily in which most Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants emerged from — the real selection aims to deliver these households a delicious reminder of home.

Suffering management and top quality types make Columbia Restaurant and all of their sis restaurants really impressive places where singles and partners can invest a night with those they like greatest.

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