The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Fl’s Oldest Eatery Creates a Beautiful Background For The Intimate Moments

The small Version: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant features served Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and beverages that portray a long-standing genealogy and family history. Founded by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains a nearby favorite due to the old-fashioned meals and personable solution. Over time, people from all around the globe attended into attractive restaurant to celebrate engagements, anniversaries, birthdays, also monumental times. Nowadays, the last and fifth generations of the family possesses and functions 13 different restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re searching for okay food with a good conventional family experience, you’ll reserve a table in the spectacular and romantic food areas regarding the Columbia Restaurant.


Over the past 30 years, my family’s favored destination has become an oceanfront hotel in Sand Key, Florida. We have now eliminated here over twelve occasions to create mud castles, spot dolphins, and consume delicious dinners on patios overlooking the gulf coast of florida.

We have carefully explored town’s restaurant selection, looking around from most useful regional bones around, however it simply therefore occurs your one bistro all of us enjoy most is within strolling distance of our own hotel. The Columbia eatery’s white linen tablecloths, attentive solution, and mouth-watering food make it our go-to area for lunch.

When we happened to be children, my parents would order us a cheddar pizza pie while they went to this romantic Spanish restaurant alone; however, we have now enjoy tapas and drink as much as they perform, so we’ve begun crashing their unique night out — often providing along times of one’s own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has actually wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world atmosphere. Though it’s the oldest cafe in Florida, business still is run because of the descendants with the original founder. Every item from the diet plan provides a story behind it, and many of meals were handed over from one generation for the Hernandez Gonzmart family to a higher. Family members heritage is a large area of the Columbia’s menu, record, and method of service.

“The staff is some like family members,” mentioned Michael Kilgore, the principle Marketing Officer for the Columbia. “quite a few staff remain for 20 or 30 years. The things we like about all of our group is actually how long they stick to united states. They come right here in order to find a property.”

You can enjoy this comfortable and welcoming environment on your own subsequent night out when you go to any of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia eatery presently serves guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater seashore, and Celebration. Whether you’re drinking drink on a picturesque balcony or viewing flamenco performers light the period while you eat 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 Restaurant can locate the background back once again to Dec. 17, 1903 — similar time the Wright brothers effectively tested society’s basic aircraft. That has been when a Cuban immigrant known as Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began running a saloon for a local preparing organization in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious entrepreneur switched the saloon into a well known 60-seat cafe noted for its genuine Cuban coffee and sandwiches. Soon after his achievements, Casimiro ordered a restaurant next door and converted it into an attractive living area. In 1930, his child took over ownership and operation associated with the flourishing restaurant.

Throughout Great Depression, their child Casimiro Jr. created 1st air-conditioned dining area in Tampa. The guy hoped their trendy appearance and raised dance floor would draw individuals to the cafe that assist all of them forget their own concerns for every night. The Don Quixote area was actually a winner, together with Columbia could keep the doorways open although additional businesses collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia to their only child, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an experienced musician who’d met the woman partner, Cesar Gonzmart, at the Tampa bistro. This theatrical set introduced activity and art for the Columbia, establishing a showroom that managed many skilled Latin dancers and performers. Under Adela and Cesar’s authority, the Columbia extended to Sarasota along with other locations in Florida.

These days, certainly Adela and Cesar’s two sons has brought the reins and held their family members’ business going. Richard Gonzmart might operating at his family’s restaurants since he was 12 yrs . old, very they are closely acquainted with the atmosphere and background. Richard can in fact indicate the dining table at the Columbia eatery in which he and his awesome girlfriend had their particular basic go out significantly more than 43 years ago.

“there’s lots of romance right here, and we also have actually a great story,” stated Michael. “not as much as 15 restaurants in the us tend to be family-owned and more than 100 years old, therefore we’re in pretty elite business.”

Florida’s earliest bistro has a proud and enduring history grounded on food, family members, and enjoyable. Michael told united states the 5th generation of the founding household happens to be becoming groomed to take control 1 day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have chosen to take in energetic control functions within restaurants consequently they are willing to keep consitently the household custom opting for numerous years into the future.

The Columbia was acknowledged which includes from the highest honors within the cafe sector, including induction into Nation’s Restaurant News’ “good food Hall of popularity,” gained the “Distinguished Restaurants of united states (SiRoNA) honor of quality,” Florida Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “better of Award of quality.”

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

The Columbia Restaurant sets a luxurious table and provides a wonderful getting away from everyday life. It seduces your sensory faculties as soon as you walk-in the doors. You’re surrounded by greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork due to the fact sounds of fun plus the smells of fresh fish and shellfish meals waft through atmosphere. Before my personal purchase also gets to myself, my mouth is definitely watering with anticipation. Luckily for us, each guest will get his or her own recently produced loaf of Cuban breads, thus I have actually one thing to satisfy my personal tastebuds while we wait.

The 14-page menu is full of good food but supplies effortless discussion beginners for daters simply observing the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat comes with an enticing description along with interesting history information. By way of example, the restaurant’s coconut ice-cream ended up being a favorite of ice-cream business owner Gustavo Hernandez, the third son of this initial Columbia founder, now this nice meal is actually supported in his respect.

From vegetarian paella (Spanish rice combined with hearty vegetables) on shrimp great (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the foods at Columbia are bursting with flavor. The shareable plates, also known as tapas, get this bistro suitable for lovers on a date as you may come better collectively by revealing tiny plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. You can easily create a budget-friendly meal by purchasing a few among these appetizers collectively — just remember to truly save space for treat!

The Très Amigos churros could be a great choice for partners since they are tactile, sweet, and simply slightly dirty. You are able to drop the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s a little for everyone. In addition, Columbia’s signature White Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent dessert ideal for splitting with a night out together who has got a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler weblog called the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s leading date-night spots, encouraging partners to “begin with Columbia’s famous 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, and then share a massive platter on the Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo.”

Your own intimate evening will be-all the greater pleasurable should you set with your meal one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a rich drink known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and spouse.

Plus, from the Columbia Restaurant, the sangria would be to perish for. Really, it comes by the cup but you can additionally split a pitcher of white or reddish sangria with a romantic date to boost your eating experience. Generously huge cuts of good fresh fruit drift during the wine and infuse it with wealthy styles. Whether you are buying this classic sangria or among the bistro’s family wines, the high-caliber products try not to let you down.

Michael informed you the team tends to make an endeavor available affordable however top quality wines to whet guests’ appetites. “our very own wine variety need perfectly suited to the foodstuff we serve plus price,” he mentioned.

Many partners & households Have Shared Special Moments Here

When i do believe of this Columbia, i do believe of the night we decided to have treat for supper, and my personal moms and dads bought churros, crucial lime pie, mango mousse dessert, white chocolate bread pudding, and five spoons. I think of my twin brother trying grouper the very first time on the twentieth birthday and stating excitedly, “get my personal photo” because the guy wished to program their girlfriend (that is today his girlfriend) that he loved taking in fish as much as she did.

In many techniques, the Columbia feels as though our destination, but my children isn’t really really the only household for made recollections as of this bistro as well as its six sister locations across Florida. Individuals reach the cafe whatsoever phases of life because it supplies a unique atmosphere that sets really with any celebration.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were regular friends of the Columbia in early 1950s. The Columbia staff members settled tribute to the couple and also the warm memories they provided at bistro by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed combination of tenderloin guidelines, boneless chicken, shrimp, and pork — is a delicious indication in the lengthy reputation of love in the Columbia’s eating rooms.

Whether you are going on a primary big date or celebrating a wedding anniversary, you’ll find intimacy and love achieve the soft candlelight regarding the Columbia eatery.

“It’s our targets,” Michael said, “to own folks feel as if the Columbia is the perfect place to come quickly to commemorate life’s goals.”

The Columbia Restaurant Brings household standards on the Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with genuine meals, divine atmospheres, and friendly service. The servers, at least at all of our Columbia in Sand Key, watch their own guests and are usually quick to state “Welcome right back” to loyal clients just who, like my loved ones, find themselves going back to the classy dining areas over and over again.

This long-standing dining place provides grown and changed for the years, but it has not disregarded its century-long family sources. Richard has actually ambitious intends to serve diners and daters throughout Florida from inside the years to come. “All of our holder doesn’t sleep,” Michael said with a laugh. “he is constantly thinking up something new.”

The Columbia team intentions to open up at least two brand new restaurants for the impending years. One will be conveniently located right down the street from the original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to start in autumn 2018, are going to pay respect to limited community in Sicily in which most Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the real menu aims to bring these individuals a delicious indication of house.

Enduring leadership and high quality tastes make the Columbia eatery and all its sibling restaurants undoubtedly impressive locations where singles and couples can spend an evening in the company of those they like finest.

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