The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Fl’s Oldest Eatery Produces a lovely Backdrop To Suit Your Intimate Times

The Quick variation: Since 1905, the Columbia eatery features served Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and drinks that represent a long-standing family history. Founded by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia stays a nearby favored because of its old-fashioned ingredients and personable service. Through the years, individuals from all over the globe have come into the glamorous cafe to commemorate engagements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, as well as other monumental moments. Nowadays, the next and 5th years of family members owns and functions 13 various restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for okay eating with a good conventional family feel, you can easily reserve a table when you look at the spectacular and enchanting dinner rooms from the Columbia Restaurant.


Over the past 3 decades, my family’s favored destination is an oceanfront resort in Sand Key, Fl. We have eliminated indeed there over 12 occasions to build mud castles, area whales, and eat tasty meals on patios overlooking the gulf coast of florida.

We have carefully investigated the town’s restaurant variety, searching from the most useful regional bones about, nonetheless it simply so occurs your one bistro most of us enjoy most is within walking length of one’s hotel. The Columbia Restaurant’s white-linen tablecloths, attentive service, and mouth-watering food ensure it is our very own go-to spot for dinner.

Whenever we happened to be young ones, my moms and dads would order us a mozzarella cheese pizza pie even though they visited this enchanting Spanish bistro alone; but we now enjoy tapas and wine as much while they perform, therefore we’ve started crashing their own night out — occasionally getting along dates in our own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world atmosphere. Even though it’s the oldest bistro in Fl, the business still is operate by descendants in the initial president. Every product on menu features a tale behind it, and lots of on the dishes being handed over from one generation associated with the Hernandez Gonzmart family members to the next. Family practice is an enormous an element of the Columbia’s diet plan, history, and method to service.

“the employees can quite like family,” stated Michael Kilgore, the principle promotional Officer when it comes to Columbia. “quite a few staff remain for 20 or three decades. Among the many circumstances we like about our team is actually how much time they stick with us. They are available right here and discover a property.”

You can enjoy this comfortable and inviting atmosphere on your own after that night out by going to any of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia eatery currently acts visitors in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater seashore, and party. Whether you’re sipping wine on a picturesque balcony or enjoying flamenco dancers light up the period although you take in tapas, you are guaranteed to have an unforgettable night from the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can trace its record back once again to Dec. 17, 1903 — similar time the Wright brothers successfully tried worldwide’s first aircraft. That was whenever a Cuban immigrant called Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started operating a saloon for a nearby making company in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business owner switched the saloon into a prominent 60-seat cafe recognized for its real Cuban coffee and snacks. After their success, Casimiro bought a cafe or restaurant next door and converted it into an attractive living area. In 1930, his son got over ownership and process with the thriving restaurant.

During the Great Depression, his son Casimiro Jr. created the very first air-conditioned living area in Tampa. The guy hoped its trendy appearance and raised dance floor would draw individuals to the bistro and help them forget their fears for a night. The Don Quixote area was a success, together with Columbia was able to keep the doorways available although various other organizations folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia on to their just child, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an experienced musician that has met the woman husband, Cesar Gonzmart, during the Tampa cafe. This theatrical pair brought activity and artistry towards Columbia, creating a showroom that hosted numerous skilled Latin dancers and performers. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia extended to Sarasota alongside places in Fl.

These days, certainly one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has brought the reins and kept his family members’ business heading. Richard Gonzmart might working at their family members’ restaurants since he was 12 years of age, therefore he’s intimately acquainted its environment and history. Richard may actually point out the table in the Columbia Restaurant where he and his awesome spouse had their first go out above 43 years back.

“there are many romance right here, and now we have a fantastic tale,” said Michael. “Less than 15 restaurants in the usa are family-owned and most a century old, so we’re in pretty elite business.”

Florida’s earliest bistro has actually a pleased and enduring history rooted in food, family, and enjoyable. Michael told all of us the 5th generation with the founding family members happens to be being groomed to take over one day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have chosen to take on productive control parts on restaurants and are prepared to keep consitently the family members practice choosing even more many years to come.

The Columbia has-been recognized which includes associated with greatest honours within the bistro market, such as induction into country’s Restaurant News’ “Fine food Hall of Fame,” gained the “notable Restaurants of North America (SiRoNA) honor of quality,” Florida Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “better of Award of quality.”

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

The Columbia Restaurant sets a luxurious dining table and a delightful getting away from every day life. It seduces the sensory faculties as soon as you walk in the doorways. You are enclosed by greenery, water fountains, and artwork once the noise of laughter in addition to scents of new seafood meals waft through the atmosphere. Before my personal order even reaches me personally, my personal throat is always watering with expectation. Luckily, each guest gets his/her very own recently produced loaf of Cuban bread, thus I have actually something to satisfy my personal tastebuds while I wait.

The 14-page eating plan is filled with great meals and provides simple talk starters for daters merely observing one another. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert has an enticing description together with fascinating background information. As an instance, the cafe’s coconut frozen dessert had been a well liked of ice-cream business person Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd son regarding the initial Columbia creator, now this nice plate is served in his honor.

From vegetarian paella (Spanish grain blended with satisfying greens) for the shrimp supreme (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the meals at Columbia tend to be bursting with flavor. The shareable plates, called tapas, get this bistro perfect for partners on a romantic date as you may come closer collectively by discussing little dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. It is possible to create a budget-friendly food by ordering a number of of those appetizers together — remember to save lots of place for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros is an outstanding choice for lovers since they are tactile, nice, and just slightly dirty. It is possible 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 treat ideal for splitting with a date who’s a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog called the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night areas, motivating couples to “start out with Columbia’s well-known 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, right after which discuss an enormous plate with the Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, aromatic grain, and chorizo.”

Your enchanting night will be-all the greater satisfying if you combine together with your dinner one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, a wealthy wine named after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and girlfriend.

Plus, at Columbia Restaurant, the sangria is perish for. Severely, referring by glass but you can in addition separate a pitcher of white or reddish sangria with a date to boost your own dining knowledge. Amply big cuts of fresh fruit drift in the wine and infuse it with wealthy types. Whether you’re purchasing this traditional sangria or among cafe’s family members wines, the high-caliber beverages cannot disappoint.

Michael informed united states the team helps make an attempt to offer inexpensive yet top quality wines to whet guests’ appetites. “our very own wine variety need perfectly fitted to the meal we offer plus price point,” the guy mentioned.

Countless partners & households have actually Shared specialized Moments Here

When In my opinion of the Columbia, i do believe of this night we decided to have treat for dinner, and my personal moms and dads ordered churros, crucial lime pie, mango mousse dessert, white candy loaves of bread pudding, and five spoons. In my opinion of my personal twin brother attempting grouper for the first time on the 20th birthday celebration and stating excitedly, “simply take my image” because the guy wanted to show his sweetheart (that is now his wife) which he liked taking fish whenever she performed.

In numerous steps, the Columbia is like all of our location, but my children isn’t really really the only family members having generated recollections only at that cafe and its six sister areas across Florida. Folks arrived at the bistro whatsoever stages of existence since it provides an unique atmosphere that pairs well with any special event.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had been repeated visitors associated with the Columbia in the early 1950s. The Columbia team settled tribute on pair and the loving thoughts they shared at restaurant by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin ideas, boneless chicken breast, shrimp, and pork — is a delicious note with the very long reputation for romance in Columbia’s dining rooms.

Whether you’re going on an initial date or remembering a wedding anniversary, you’ll find closeness and enthusiasm flourish in the smooth candlelight associated with Columbia eatery.

“It really is one of our goals,” Michael said, “to possess folks feel like the Columbia is where to come to celebrate existence’s goals.”

The Columbia Restaurant offers group Values into the Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with real meals, divine atmospheres, and friendly solution. The hosts, at least at our Columbia in Sand Key, focus on their friends and generally are rapid to express “Welcome back” to faithful customers just who, like my loved ones, find themselves returning to the classy dining areas over repeatedly.

This long-standing eating place has cultivated and altered throughout the many years, however it has never disregarded the century-long family origins. Richard features ambitious plans to provide diners and daters throughout Florida inside the a long time. “our very own manager does not rest,” Michael stated with a laugh. “he is usually dreaming up new things.”

The Columbia staff intentions to start at least two brand new restaurants during the coming decades. One will end up being conveniently positioned correct next door through the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open in autumn 2018, will probably pay homage to a little town in Sicily where a majority of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants emerged from — the real menu is designed to bring these people a tasty indication of house.

Suffering authority and quality flavors result in the Columbia eatery as well as their brother restaurants undoubtedly great places in which singles and partners can spend a night with those they like best.

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