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

The Quick Version: Since 1905, the Columbia eatery provides supported Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and products that express a long-standing genealogy. Created by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains a nearby preferred due to the traditional ingredients and personable solution. Over the years, people from world-wide have come into the glamorous restaurant to celebrate engagements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, also monumental minutes. Nowadays, the 4th and 5th years of the family members owns and works 13 various restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for fine dining with a good antique family feel, you are able to reserve a table in spectacular and intimate dining areas on the Columbia Restaurant.


For the past three decades, my family’s preferred destination was an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Florida. We’ve eliminated truth be told there over several times to construct mud castles, place dolphins, and consume tasty meals on patios ignoring the gulf coast of florida.

There is carefully explored the town’s bistro selection, looking around from the greatest regional bones about, nevertheless simply thus happens your one cafe we enjoy the majority of is actually within strolling length of our own hotel. The Columbia Restaurant’s white-linen tablecloths, conscious service, and mouth-watering meals enable it to be all of our go-to spot for dinner.

Once we had been young ones, my personal moms and dads would order you a parmesan cheese pizza even though they checked out this passionate Spanish restaurant alone; but we have now enjoy tapas and drink just as much because they would, so we’ve begun crashing their own night out — often delivering along times of our own very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world ambiance. Although it’s the oldest cafe in Florida, the company still is operated of the descendants of this original creator. Every product in the diet plan has a tale behind it, and several of quality recipes are passed from one generation for the Hernandez Gonzmart household to the next. Family custom is an enormous part of the Columbia’s menu, history, and approach to service.

“the employees normally some like family,” said Michael Kilgore, the Chief advertising Officer the Columbia. “Many of our staff members remain for 20 or 3 decades. The circumstances we like about our team is actually just how long they stay with all of us. They come right here and discover a home.”

You may enjoy this comfy and inviting atmosphere on your subsequent date night when you go to any of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant at this time acts visitors in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater seashore, and Celebration. Whether you’re drinking wine on a picturesque balcony or enjoying flamenco performers light up the period as you consume tapas, you’re sure to have a remarkable evening at the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can locate its record back to Dec. 17, 1903 — the same day the Wright brothers effectively tested globally’s very first airplane. Which was whenever a Cuban immigrant called Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began running a saloon for an area making organization in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious entrepreneur switched the saloon into a prominent 60-seat cafe recognized for their real Cuban coffee and sandwiches. Following his success, Casimiro purchased a restaurant across the street and switched it into a gorgeous dining area. In 1930, his son took more than control and process for the thriving bistro.

Through the Great anxiety, their boy Casimiro Jr. built 1st air-conditioned living area in Tampa. The guy hoped the upscale appearance and elevated dance flooring would draw people to the cafe and help them forget about their own worries for per night. The Don Quixote Room was a winner, and the Columbia managed to hold its doorways open even though many other businesses collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia to his sole kid, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an experienced musician who had satisfied the woman spouse, Cesar Gonzmart, in the Tampa bistro. This theatrical set introduced entertainment and art towards the Columbia, creating a showroom that hosted numerous talented Latin performers and performers. Under Adela and Cesar’s authority, the Columbia extended to Sarasota along with other places in Florida.

Now, certainly one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has had the reins and held his family’s company going. Richard Gonzmart is operating at his family members’ restaurants since he was 12 yrs . old, therefore he is thoroughly knowledgeable about its environment and background. Richard can point out the table during the Columbia Restaurant where he and his girlfriend had their basic go out significantly more than 43 in years past.

“there are many romance here, and then we have the story,” said Michael. “Less than 15 restaurants in the us are family-owned and more than 100 years old, therefore we’re in pretty elite organization.”

Florida’s oldest cafe features a happy and enduring record grounded on food, household, and enjoyable. Michael informed united states the fifth generation of founding family is now being groomed to take control one-day. Richard’s daughters and nephew took in energetic administration roles at the restaurants and are generally ready to keep your family custom choosing additional years into the future.

The Columbia has-been known with many for the greatest honours into the restaurant market, including induction into country’s Restaurant Information’ “okay dinner Hall of popularity,” earned the “Distinguished Restaurants of America (SiRoNA) Award of quality,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence.”

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

The Columbia Restaurant establishes a lavish dining table and gives a delightful escape from every day life. It seduces your sensory faculties as soon as you walk in the doorways. You are surrounded by greenery, drinking water fountains, and artwork due to the fact noises of laughter as well as the scents of new fish and shellfish meals waft through air. Before my personal order also gets to me personally, my personal throat is often watering with anticipation. Luckily, each guest gets his / her own freshly produced loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, thus I have something to meet my personal taste buds while we wait.

The 14-page selection is filled with great meals but also provides easy talk beginners for daters just observing one another. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat has an enticing explanation including fascinating back ground information. For-instance, the cafe’s coconut ice-cream was a well liked of frozen dessert business owner Gustavo Hernandez, the next boy regarding the initial Columbia creator, and after this this sweet meal is supported within his honor.

From veggie paella (Spanish rice combined with hearty vegetables) on shrimp great (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the foodstuffs at Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable dishes, known as tapas, get this to cafe well suited for couples on a romantic date because you may come better with each other by revealing little plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. It is possible to generate a budget-friendly meal by purchasing a number of of the appetizers with each other — keep in mind to save lots of space for treat!

The Très Amigos churros might possibly be an excellent selection for couples because they’re tactile, sweet, and just a tiny bit dirty. It is possible to drop the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s a little something for everyone. Plus, Columbia’s trademark White Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent dessert excellent for splitting with a date having a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler weblog called the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s top date-night places, motivating lovers to “start with Columbia’s famous 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, right after which share an enormous platter associated with Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, aromatic grain, and chorizo.”

Your passionate night will be all the greater amount of satisfying any time you pair together with your meal a glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, an abundant wine named after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and partner.

Plus, on Columbia eatery, the sangria is always to die for. Seriously, it comes down because of the cup but you can additionally split a pitcher of white or yellow sangria with a date to increase your own eating experience. Generously big cuts of fresh fruit float from inside the drink and infuse it with rich tastes. Whether you’re purchasing this classic sangria or among the many cafe’s household wines, the high-caliber drinks dont disappoint.

Michael informed united states the team helps make an endeavor available affordable however top quality wines to whet guests’ appetites. “the drink choice should really be completely designed for the foodstuff we offer along with your price point,” the guy stated.

Countless partners & groups Have Shared Special times Here

When I think on the Columbia, i believe in the evening we made a decision to have dessert for supper, and my personal moms and dads ordered churros, essential lime pie, mango mousse meal, white candy breads pudding, and five spoons. I do believe of my personal twin-brother trying grouper for the first time on all of our 20th birthday celebration and stating excitedly, “get my picture” because he planned to reveal their girlfriend (that’s now his spouse) he loved taking fish just as much as she did.

In many means, the Columbia feels as though all of our destination, but my family isn’t really the sole family members to have generated thoughts during that restaurant and its six sister areas across Fl. Folks arrive at the restaurant after all phases of life since it provides an unique atmosphere that pairs well with any celebration.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be constant friends on the Columbia during the early 1950s. The Columbia personnel paid tribute on few while the enjoying memories they provided in the restaurant by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed blend of tenderloin ideas, boneless chicken white meat, shrimp, and chicken — is a delicious indication associated with the lengthy reputation of relationship for the Columbia’s dining spaces.

Whether you’re happening an initial time or celebrating a marriage anniversary, you’ll find closeness and passion flourish in the smooth candlelight for the Columbia eatery.

“It really is one of the objectives,” Michael said, “having people feel like the Columbia is where to come calmly to celebrate existence’s milestones.”

The Columbia Restaurant Brings group standards on Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with authentic meals, divine atmospheres, and personable solution. The hosts, no less than at our very own Columbia in Sand Key, watch their own guests and are rapid to express “Welcome straight back” to loyal customers just who, like my family, are going back to the classy dining spaces regularly.

This long-standing dinner institution has actually grown and changed through the decades, nevertheless hasn’t ever forgotten their century-long household origins. Richard features ambitious intentions to serve diners and daters throughout Florida inside the years into the future. “All of our holder doesn’t sleep,” Michael said with a laugh. “he is usually thinking upwards something new.”

The Columbia team plans to start at least two brand new restaurants inside the upcoming years. One will be conveniently positioned correct down the street from original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to open in autumn 2018, are going to pay respect to a little community in Sicily in which a majority of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the genuine selection will deliver these households a delicious reminder of residence.

Suffering authority and top quality tastes improve Columbia eatery as well as its sis restaurants genuinely amazing locations where singles and couples can invest an evening with those they love most readily useful.