The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Fl’s Oldest Eatery Produces a Beautiful Background For Your Enchanting Minutes

The Short Version: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant provides served Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and beverages that express a long-standing genealogy. Started by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains a nearby favorite due to its traditional meals and personable service. Over time, individuals from all around the globe came towards glamorous restaurant to celebrate engagements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and various other monumental times. Nowadays, the next and 5th generations with the household is the owner of and operates 13 different restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re looking for okay dining with a decent conventional household feel, possible reserve a table during the stunning and passionate eating spaces regarding the Columbia eatery.


For the past 30 years, my loved ones’s preferred holiday destination might an oceanfront resort in Sand Key, Florida. We have eliminated truth be told there over 12 occasions to build sand castles, place whales, and eat delicious dinners on patios overlooking the gulf.

We now have carefully discovered the city’s restaurant choice, looking around out the most useful neighborhood bones about, nevertheless just thus happens that one cafe we enjoy black gay many is actually within strolling range your hotel. The Columbia eatery’s white-linen tablecloths, attentive service, and mouth-watering food allow all of our go-to spot for dinner.

As soon as we happened to be young ones, my parents would get all of us a mozzarella cheese pizza while they checked out this passionate Spanish cafe by yourself; however, we currently enjoy tapas and drink as much while they carry out, therefore we’ve started crashing their particular night out — sometimes getting along dates your very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world atmosphere. Even though itis the oldest restaurant in Florida, the company still is run by descendants of this original creator. Every product in the selection features a tale behind it, and lots of from the meals have now been transmitted from one generation of the Hernandez Gonzmart family members to the next. Family custom is a large the main Columbia’s eating plan, history, and approach to solution.

“The staff can be quite like household,” stated Michael Kilgore, the main promotional Officer when it comes down to Columbia. “Many of our staff members stay for 20 or thirty years. Among the many situations we love about our very own party is the length of time they stick with all of us. They come here and discover a home.”

You can enjoy this comfortable and inviting atmosphere on the next date night when you go to any of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia eatery presently acts friends in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and party. Whether you’re drinking wine on a picturesque balcony or seeing flamenco performers illuminate the phase even though you consume tapas, you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable evening from the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can track its background back again to Dec. 17, 1903 — the same time the Wright brothers successfully tested the planet’s very first plane. That was whenever a Cuban immigrant called Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began operating a saloon for a regional making business in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious entrepreneur turned the saloon into a favorite 60-seat cafe recognized for its authentic Cuban coffee and snacks. After their success, Casimiro ordered a restaurant next-door and converted it into a striking dining room. In 1930, their son took over possession and operation of this flourishing restaurant.

Through the Great anxiety, their child Casimiro Jr. created the most important air-conditioned dining area in Tampa. He hoped its trendy look and raised party flooring would draw individuals the bistro and help them forget about their own fears for every night. The Don Quixote area ended up being a winner, and the Columbia could keep their doorways available even though many various other organizations folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia to their sole child, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished musician that has fulfilled the woman partner, Cesar Gonzmart, from the Tampa cafe. This theatrical pair delivered activity and artistry towards the Columbia, establishing a showroom that hosted lots of talented Latin performers and musicians. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota also places in Fl.

These days, certainly Adela and Cesar’s two sons has brought the reins and kept their family members’ company going. Richard Gonzmart has-been working at their family members’ restaurants since he had been 12 yrs old, so he or she is intimately knowledgeable about the atmosphere and record. Richard may actually point out the dining table within Columbia Restaurant where he and his partner had their very first date a lot more than 43 in years past.

“there are many romance right here, therefore we have actually a good story,” stated Michael. “significantly less than 15 restaurants in america tend to be family-owned and more than a century outdated, so we’re in pretty elite organization.”

Florida’s earliest cafe features a happy and enduring record rooted in food, family, and enjoyable. Michael told united states the fifth generation from the founding household is currently becoming groomed to take control 1 day. Richard’s daughters and nephew took in energetic management parts during the restaurants consequently they are prepared maintain family members custom going for additional many years to come.

The Columbia has been acknowledged with many for the highest prizes for the cafe market, including induction into country’s Restaurant News’ “great eating Hall of Fame,” gained the “Distinguished Restaurants of North America (SiRoNA) honor of quality,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “better of Award of Excellence.”

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

The Columbia eatery sets a luxurious dining table and provides a wonderful getting away from daily life. It seduces your own sensory faculties from the moment you walk in the doorways. You’re enclosed by greenery, liquid fountains, and artwork because the sounds of fun plus the smells of new fish meals waft through the environment. Before my purchase actually reaches myself, my mouth area is definitely watering with expectation. Luckily, each guest becomes his / her very own freshly produced loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, thus I have actually something to satisfy my personal preferences while I wait.

The 14-page eating plan is full of great food and supplies simple talk beginners for daters simply getting to know each other. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert comes with an enticing information also fascinating history information. Including, the restaurant’s coconut ice cream ended up being a favorite of frozen dessert entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd son of original Columbia founder, now this sweet recipe is actually supported in the honor.

From the veggie paella (Spanish grain blended with hearty greens) toward shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foodstuffs in the Columbia are bursting with taste. The shareable plates, called tapas, get this restaurant perfect for lovers on a night out together as you will come closer with each other by revealing small plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. It is possible to generate a budget-friendly meal by buying multiple of those appetizers with each other — remember to save place for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros will be a fantastic selection for lovers since they are tactile, sweet, and just slightly dirty. You can drop the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s a little for all. Additionally, Columbia’s signature White Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent treat excellent for splitting with a romantic date who has got a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler web log named the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s leading date-night places, encouraging couples to “start out with Columbia’s well-known 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, after which share an enormous plate of this Paella a la Valenciana, filled with shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo.”

Your intimate evening will be all more pleasurable in the event that you set together with your food one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, a wealthy drink named after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and girlfriend.

Plus, in the Columbia eatery, the sangria should die for. Really, it comes down of the cup you could in addition separate a pitcher of white or red sangria with a night out together to increase your dining experience. Generously big pieces of good fresh fruit drift in the drink and infuse it with wealthy styles. Whether you are ordering this classic sangria or among the many cafe’s household wines, the high-caliber products you should never disappoint.

Michael informed us the group helps make an endeavor to supply affordable however high quality wines to whet visitors’ appetites. “All of our wine choice should really be completely designed for the food we serve plus selling price,” the guy stated.

Many Couples & Families Have Shared particular times Here

When i believe associated with the Columbia, i do believe associated with the night we decided to have dessert for supper, and my personal parents purchased churros, essential lime pie, mango mousse meal, white candy breads dessert, and five spoons. I believe of my personal twin brother trying grouper for the first time on our very own twentieth birthday celebration and claiming excitedly, “simply take my personal picture” because he wanted to program their gf (who is now his partner) he enjoyed taking in fish everything she performed.

In plenty ways, the Columbia is like the destination, but my children isn’t really the only household for made thoughts only at that cafe and its six sister places across Florida. Individuals started to the restaurant at all phases of life since it provides a particular environment that pairs really with any party.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had been regular visitors associated with Columbia in early 1950s. The Columbia staff paid tribute to the few and warm thoughts they provided at the restaurant by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin guidelines, boneless chicken, shrimp, and pork — is a delicious indication of the lengthy history of relationship inside the Columbia’s dining rooms.

Whether you are happening an initial big date or honoring a wedding anniversary, you’ll find intimacy and enthusiasm achieve the smooth candlelight associated with the Columbia eatery.

“It’s one of our goals,” Michael stated, “to have people feel as if the Columbia is the perfect place to come quickly to celebrate life’s goals.”

The Columbia Restaurant offers Family standards with the Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with genuine dishes, divine atmospheres, and personable service. The servers, about at the Columbia in Sand Key, focus on their unique visitors and therefore are fast to say “Welcome right back” to loyal consumers exactly who, like my children, are time for the classy dining areas repeatedly.

This long-standing dinner business provides expanded and altered through the entire years, however it never disregarded their century-long family members origins. Richard has actually committed intends to serve diners and daters throughout Fl in years into the future. “the manager does not sleep,” Michael stated with fun. “He’s usually dreaming up something new.”

The Columbia team intends to start at the least two brand new restaurants from inside the coming many years. One will be conveniently located appropriate down the street through the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to open up in fall 2018, pay homage to a tiny community in Sicily in which most Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the authentic diet plan aims to bring these households a delicious note of house.

Enduring leadership and high quality styles make the Columbia Restaurant and all sorts of its brother restaurants certainly impressive places in which singles and lovers can spend an evening with those they like most readily useful.