The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Fl’s Oldest Restaurant Produces a Beautiful Background To Suit Your Enchanting Moments

The Short Version: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has offered Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and drinks that portray a long-standing genealogy and family history. Established by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia continues to be a regional favorite due to its old-fashioned meals and friendly service. Over time, individuals from all around the globe came towards attractive bistro to commemorate involvements, anniversaries, birthdays, along with other monumental times. Nowadays, the 4th and 5th generations associated with the family possesses and operates 13 different restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for fine food with a good traditional family feel, possible reserve a table inside the stunning and romantic dining areas associated with the Columbia eatery.


Over the past 3 decades, my family’s preferred holiday destination has-been an oceanfront resort in Sand Key, Florida. We have gone indeed there over several instances to construct mud castles, spot dolphins, and consume tasty meals on patios overlooking the gulf coast of florida.

We now have carefully explored the town’s bistro option, searching out of the greatest regional joints around, nonetheless it just very occurs your one bistro we-all enjoy a lot of is actually within strolling range of our own lodge. The Columbia eatery’s white linen tablecloths, mindful service, and mouth-watering meals allow it to be all of our go-to area for lunch.

Once we happened to be young ones, my personal parents would purchase you a parmesan cheese pizza as they checked out this romantic Spanish restaurant by yourself; however, we have now enjoy tapas and drink equally as much because they do, therefore we’ve begun crashing their own date night — occasionally taking along times in our very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world atmosphere. Even though it’s the oldest bistro in Florida, business continues to be operated from the descendants associated with original founder. Every product in the eating plan has a story behind it, and many for the meals have-been handed over from one generation in the Hernandez Gonzmart household to another. Family heritage is a huge a portion of the Columbia’s diet plan, record, and method of service.

«the employees can a little like household,» said Michael Kilgore, the Chief advertising Officer for the Columbia. «Many of our employees remain for 20 or three decades. One of several circumstances we love about the group is how much time they stick with us. They show up here and discover a house.»

You may enjoy this comfy and inviting atmosphere in your then date night by visiting any one of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant currently acts guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you are sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or enjoying flamenco performers illuminate the stage even though you consume tapas, you’re certain to have a memorable night within Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can track its record returning to Dec. 17, 1903 — the same day the Wright brothers successfully tried the whole world’s basic airplane. That was whenever a Cuban immigrant known as Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started operating a saloon for a local brewing organization in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person switched the saloon into popular 60-seat cafe noted for the genuine Cuban coffee and snacks. After his achievements, Casimiro purchased a restaurant across the street and converted it into a striking dining free adult chat room. In 1930, their daughter took over control and operation regarding the flourishing cafe.

Throughout the Great anxiety, his child Casimiro Jr. created the most important air-conditioned dining room in Tampa. He hoped their trendy appearance and elevated dance flooring would draw men and women to the bistro that assist all of them forget about their fears for per night. The Don Quixote Room had been a hit, therefore the Columbia managed to hold the doorways available while many some other businesses folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia to their just child, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an established artist that has met the woman partner, Cesar Gonzmart, at the Tampa restaurant. This theatrical pair introduced activity and artistry on Columbia, setting up a showroom that hosted lots of skilled Latin dancers and performers. Under Adela and Cesar’s authority, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota also areas in Florida.

These days, certainly one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has brought the reins and held his family members’ company heading. Richard Gonzmart is operating at his family’s restaurants since he was 12 yrs old, therefore they are intimately familiar with its environment and history. Richard can point to the dining table within Columbia Restaurant where he and his awesome spouse had their basic day more than 43 years back.

«there’s lots of romance right here, therefore have actually the story,» stated Michael. «Less than 15 restaurants in the United States tend to be family-owned and more than 100 years old, therefore we’re in pretty elite organization.»

Fl’s earliest restaurant provides a proud and enduring background grounded on food, family, and enjoyable. Michael informed you the 5th generation associated with the founding household is now being groomed to dominate someday. Richard’s daughters and nephew took on energetic control roles during the restaurants consequently they are prepared maintain family members tradition choosing more a long time.

The Columbia has-been known with many of greatest prizes within the bistro market, such as induction into Nation’s Restaurant Information’ «great food Hall of Fame,» gained the «Distinguished Restaurants of united states (SiRoNA) honor of quality,» Fl Trend’s «Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,» and Wine Spectator’s «good honor of Excellence.»

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

The Columbia Restaurant establishes a magnificent table and provides a delightful escape from every day life. It seduces your own senses from the moment you walk-in the doorways. You’re surrounded by greenery, drinking water fountains, and artwork as the sounds of fun and scents of fresh fish and shellfish meals waft through air. Before my personal order also extends to me personally, my mouth area is always watering with anticipation. Luckily, each guest becomes his / her own newly generated loaf of Cuban breads, therefore I have something you should meet my personal taste buds while we wait.

The 14-page eating plan is filled with great food additionally provides simple conversation starters for daters only getting to know each other. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat includes an enticing description in addition to interesting history info. By way of example, the restaurant’s coconut ice-cream ended up being a well liked of ice cream business person Gustavo Hernandez, the next daughter of original Columbia founder, and today this sweet meal is offered within his respect.

Through the veggie paella (Spanish rice mixed with hearty veggies) toward shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foods at the Columbia are bursting with taste. The shareable plates, labeled as tapas, get this cafe perfect for lovers on a date as you may come better with each other by revealing little dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. You can easily make a budget-friendly meal by purchasing various of these appetizers with each other — just remember to save area for treat!

The Très Amigos churros would-be a fantastic selection for couples because they’re tactile, nice, and just somewhat dirty. You can easily drop the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s a little something for all. Additionally, Columbia’s trademark light Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent treat perfect for splitting with a date who has a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site called the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s leading date-night spots, motivating partners to «start out with Columbia’s famous 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, following discuss a huge platter with the Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, fragrant grain, and chorizo.»

The passionate evening will be all the greater amount of satisfying should you pair along with your meal one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a wealthy wine known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and spouse.

Plus, during the Columbia Restaurant, the sangria is to perish for. Honestly, it comes down of the cup you could also divide a pitcher of white or reddish sangria with a night out together to increase the eating knowledge. Nicely big pieces of fruit float from inside the drink and infuse it with rich styles. Whether you’re ordering this classic sangria or among bistro’s family members wines, the high-caliber products never disappoint.

Michael informed you the team makes an effort to provide inexpensive however top quality wines to whet visitors’ appetites. «our very own drink selection must be perfectly designed for the meal we serve along with your selling price,» he mentioned.

Many partners & Families Have Shared specialized Moments Here

When i believe associated with the Columbia, i do believe of the night we decided to have treat for lunch, and my moms and dads bought churros, key lime pie, mango mousse meal, white chocolate bread pudding, and five spoons. I believe of my personal twin-brother attempting grouper the very first time on the twentieth birthday celebration and stating excitedly, «Take my personal image» because the guy wanted to show his girl (that is now their spouse) he loved taking in fish around she did.

In many ways, the Columbia is like the location, but my children is not truly the only family members to own made recollections at the cafe as well as its six sister places across Fl. People started to the restaurant anyway phases of existence since it supplies an unique atmosphere that sets well with any party.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were constant friends on the Columbia in early 1950s. The Columbia staff settled tribute on pair together with loving thoughts they shared from the cafe by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe «Salteado» — a sautéed blend of tenderloin tips, boneless chicken, shrimp, and pork — is a delicious indication regarding the very long history of love during the Columbia’s dining areas.

Whether you’re happening a primary time or celebrating a marriage anniversary, you will discover intimacy and passion achieve the comfortable candlelight with the Columbia Restaurant.

«It’s one of the targets,» Michael mentioned, «to have individuals feel like the Columbia is the place to come calmly to commemorate existence’s milestones.»

The Columbia eatery offers household Values with the Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with genuine dishes, divine atmospheres, and personable service. The machines, at least at all of our Columbia in Sand Key, watch their guests and they are rapid to say «Welcome straight back» to devoted customers whom, like my children, end up returning to the classy eating areas time and time again.

This long-standing eating institution has actually cultivated and altered through the many years, nonetheless it has never disregarded the century-long household sources. Richard features committed plans to offer diners and daters throughout Florida in the years into the future. «the owner doesn’t rest,» Michael mentioned with fun. «He’s always fantasizing up something totally new.»

The Columbia staff plans to start at the least two new restaurants when you look at the coming years. One will be conveniently positioned correct next door from initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to start in fall 2018, pay honor to a little town in Sicily in which a majority of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the genuine eating plan aims to deliver these family members a delicious reminder of residence.

Suffering authority and high quality tastes improve Columbia eatery as well as the aunt restaurants truly amazing locations in which singles and couples can spend an evening together with those they like most useful.