The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Florida’s Oldest Restaurant Creates a Beautiful Background For Your Passionate Minutes

The brief variation: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually served Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and products that signify a long-standing genealogy and family history. Founded by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains a local favorite due to the traditional ingredients and personable service. Over time, people from worldwide attended to the glamorous restaurant to commemorate engagements, anniversaries, birthdays, along with other monumental moments. Nowadays, the last and fifth years for the family has and runs 13 different restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for okay dinner with a good conventional family members feel, you can easily reserve a table from inside the spectacular and enchanting dining spaces of the Columbia Restaurant.


For the past three decades, my children’s favorite vacation destination was an oceanfront resort in Sand Key, Florida. We’ve gone here over several instances to construct mud castles, area dolphins, and consume tasty meals on patios ignoring the gulf coast of florida.

We’ve got thoroughly discovered the town’s cafe option, looking from the most readily useful neighborhood joints around, it merely therefore occurs the one cafe most of us enjoy most is within taking walks length of your lodge. The Columbia Restaurant’s white-linen tablecloths, conscious solution, and mouth-watering food allow it to be our go-to place for supper.

As soon as we had been kids, my parents would get united states a cheese pizza pie while they visited this passionate Spanish cafe by yourself; but we have now enjoy tapas and drink equally as much as they would, so we’ve begun crashing their unique date night — sometimes taking along dates in our very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world atmosphere. Though it’s the oldest cafe in Fl, the company continues to be operate from the descendants from the initial founder. Every item regarding selection provides a tale behind it, and lots of on the dishes have now been handed over from one generation associated with Hernandez Gonzmart household to another location. Family members practice is a large an element of the Columbia’s eating plan, record, and way of solution.

« The staff normally quite like family, » mentioned Michael Kilgore, the main promotion Officer the Columbia. « a number of our staff members stay for 20 or 30 years. Among things we love about our group is how much time they stick to united states. They arrive right here and locate a home. »

You can enjoy this comfortable and pleasant environment on the subsequent date night by going to any of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant currently serves visitors in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and party. Whether you’re drinking drink on a picturesque balcony or viewing flamenco dancers light the stage although you consume tapas, you’re certain to have an unforgettable evening on Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can track its record back into Dec. 17, 1903 — exactly the same day the Wright brothers successfully tested the entire world’s basic airplane. That has been whenever a Cuban immigrant known as Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began working a saloon for a nearby preparing organization in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person turned the saloon into a prominent 60-seat cafe known for its authentic Cuban coffee-and snacks. Soon after his achievements, Casimiro purchased a cafe or restaurant next door and switched it into an attractive kitchen. In 1930, his child took over ownership and operation of the flourishing restaurant.

During the Great Depression, his daughter Casimiro Jr. built the very first air-conditioned dining room in Tampa. The guy hoped the trendy look and raised dancing floor would draw individuals to the restaurant which help all of them forget their concerns for every night. The Don Quixote area was actually a hit, and the Columbia surely could keep the doorways open although other businesses collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto his sole child, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an experienced artist who’d fulfilled her spouse, Cesar Gonzmart, at the Tampa cafe. This theatrical pair brought enjoyment and artistry towards Columbia, developing a showroom that managed lots of skilled Latin dancers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s management, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota as well as other areas in Fl.

Today, certainly Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and held their family’s company going. Richard Gonzmart happens to be working at their family members’ restaurants since he was 12 yrs . old, so they are closely acquainted with its atmosphere and record. Richard can actually indicate the dining table during the Columbia Restaurant where the guy along with his partner had their own basic date significantly more than 43 in years past.

« There’s a lot of romance here, and now we have actually an excellent tale, » stated Michael. « Less than 15 restaurants in the us are family-owned and more than a century old, so we’re in pretty elite company. »

Fl’s oldest bistro features a satisfied and enduring history grounded on meals, family, and fun. Michael told you the fifth generation for the founding family happens to be becoming groomed to take control of eventually. Richard’s daughters and nephew took on productive administration parts on restaurants consequently they are willing to keep the family practice choosing even more years into the future.

The Columbia happens to be recognized with regarding the highest awards from inside the cafe business, including induction into country’s Restaurant News’ « great eating Hall of popularity, » made the « Distinguished Restaurants of America (SiRoNA) Award of Excellence, » Florida Trend’s « Golden Spoon Hall of Fame, » and Wine Spectator’s « good honor of Excellence. »

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

The Columbia eatery sets a magnificent dining table and a wonderful getting away from everyday activity. It seduces your own sensory faculties from the moment you walk-in the doors. You’re surrounded by greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork since noise of laughter as well as the odors of new fish and shellfish dishes waft through the atmosphere. Before my personal purchase also reaches me personally, my mouth is obviously watering with expectation. The good news is, each guest becomes his / her very own freshly produced loaf of Cuban breads, thus I have actually one thing to satisfy my personal taste buds while I wait.

The 14-page selection is full of great food but in addition provides easy conversation beginners for daters merely observing the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert boasts an enticing explanation and interesting history information. For instance, the cafe’s coconut frozen dessert was a popular of ice cream business owner Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd boy associated with original Columbia president, now this sweet recipe is supported inside the honor.

Through the veggie paella (Spanish grain combined with hearty vegetables) to the shrimp supreme (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foodstuffs at Columbia are bursting with taste. The shareable plates, also known as tapas, make this cafe suitable for couples on a date because you may come better collectively by discussing tiny dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. It’s easy to generate a budget-friendly meal by buying several of the appetizers with each other — keep in mind to save lots of area for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros would-be a great choice for couples because they’re tactile, nice, and just a tiny bit dirty. You can dip the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s a little for everybody. Plus, Columbia’s trademark White Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent dessert ideal for splitting with a romantic date who has got a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler weblog known as the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s leading date-night places, encouraging lovers to « focus on Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, and then share a massive platter in the Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, aromatic rice, and chorizo. »

The romantic night will be all more pleasurable in the event that you pair with your food a glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a rich drink known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and wife.

Plus, at the Columbia eatery, the sangria is die for. Seriously, it comes down by the glass you could in addition divide a pitcher of white or purple sangria with a night out together to improve the eating knowledge. Generously large slices of good fresh fruit float inside drink and infuse it with wealthy tastes. Whether you’re purchasing this traditional sangria or one of several restaurant’s family wines, the high-caliber drinks do not disappoint.

Michael told you the team tends to make an endeavor available inexpensive but high quality wines to whet visitors’ appetites. « our very own drink selection needs to be perfectly designed for the meal we provide as well as your price point, » he mentioned.

Countless Couples & groups have actually Shared Special Moments Here

When i do believe of Columbia, In my opinion for the night we made a decision to have treat for lunch, and my personal parents bought churros, key lime pie, mango mousse dessert, white candy bread pudding, and five spoons. I do believe of my twin-brother trying grouper the very first time on the twentieth birthday and claiming excitedly, « Take my photo » because the guy wished to program their girl (that is today his partner) which he enjoyed taking in fish around she performed.

In many ways, the Columbia feels like the destination, but my loved ones is not the actual only real family for produced thoughts as of this cafe and its particular six sister areas across Florida. Individuals started to the cafe after all phases of life given that it supplies a special atmosphere that sets well with any occasion.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be regular friends of the Columbia during the early 1950s. The Columbia personnel settled tribute into couple therefore the loving thoughts they shared at the restaurant by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe « Salteado » — a sautéed combination of tenderloin ideas, boneless chicken white meat, shrimp, and pork — is a tasty note of extended reputation of relationship in the Columbia’s dining areas.

Whether you’re happening a first date or remembering a marriage anniversary, you will find closeness and passion flourish in the gentle candlelight in the Columbia eatery.

« its our objectives, » Michael stated, « to own men and women feel like the Columbia is the place to come to commemorate life’s goals. »

The Columbia Restaurant has household Values on Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with genuine meals, divine atmospheres, and friendly service. The hosts, at the very least at our very own Columbia in Sand Key, watch their friends and they are quick to say « Welcome straight back » to faithful customers which, like my children, are going back to the classy dining spaces repeatedly.

This long-standing dinner institution provides cultivated and altered through the entire many years, but it has never forgotten about its century-long family origins. Richard features committed plans to offer diners and daters throughout Florida inside many years to come. « the owner does not rest, » Michael said with fun. « He’s constantly thinking right up something new. »

The Columbia group intends to start at the least two brand-new restaurants inside coming many years. One will end up being conveniently located right next door through the original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open in fall 2018, will pay honor to a small community in Sicily where a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the authentic eating plan is designed to bring these people a tasty indication of house.

Enduring authority and top quality types make Columbia eatery as well as their sis restaurants certainly remarkable places in which singles and couples can spend an evening with those they love most useful.