The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Florida’s Oldest Restaurant Creates an attractive Background For Your Romantic Moments

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The brief variation: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant features served Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and drinks that represent a long-standing genealogy. Established by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia continues to be a local preferred due to its standard foods and friendly service. Over time, folks from worldwide have come into the glamorous cafe to commemorate engagements, anniversaries, birthdays, also monumental moments. These days, the 4th and 5th years associated with the household possesses and operates 13 various restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for good dinner with a decent conventional family members sense, you can easily reserve a table within the spectacular and enchanting food rooms on the Columbia Restaurant.


For the past 3 decades, my family’s favored holiday destination was an oceanfront hotel in Sand Key, Fl. We have now gone truth be told there over a dozen times to construct mud castles, spot whales, and eat delicious dinners on patios overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

We have thoroughly explored town’s bistro selection, looking around from best regional bones around, however it only very happens your one restaurant most of us enjoy many is within strolling range of our own lodge. The Columbia eatery’s white linen tablecloths, mindful service, and mouth-watering meals enable it to be our go-to spot for lunch.

Whenever we were kids, my personal parents would order you a parmesan cheese pizza even though they checked out this intimate Spanish restaurant alone; however, we currently enjoy tapas and drink equally as much as they would, therefore we’ve begun crashing their particular date night — often delivering along times of our own own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant provides wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world atmosphere. Although it’s the oldest bistro in Fl, the business continues to be run of the descendants with the initial founder. Every item in the menu has actually a story behind it, and lots of of recipes have-been transmitted from one generation of this Hernandez Gonzmart household to another location. Family practice is a huge the main Columbia’s selection, record, and approach to solution.

“the employees can somewhat like family,” said Michael Kilgore, the Chief advertising Officer the Columbia. “quite a few staff members stay for 20 or thirty years. Among the situations we like about our group is actually how much time they stay with you. They are available here and find a home.”

You can enjoy this comfortable and inviting environment in your subsequent 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 Beach, and party. Whether you’re sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or viewing flamenco dancers light up the period whilst 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 eatery can track its background back to Dec. 17, 1903 — similar day the Wright brothers successfully tried the whole world’s very first plane. That has been whenever a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started operating a saloon for a regional making organization in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business owner switched the saloon into a popular 60-seat cafe noted for its genuine Cuban coffee and snacks. Following their achievements, Casimiro purchased a cafe or restaurant across the street and switched it into an attractive dining area. In 1930, their son took over possession and operation regarding the flourishing restaurant.

During Great Depression, his son Casimiro Jr. created the first air-conditioned dining room in Tampa. He hoped their upscale appearance and elevated dancing floor would draw individuals the cafe and help them forget about their particular concerns for a night. The Don Quixote Room ended up being a winner, in addition to Columbia surely could keep the doorways available while many various other organizations folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia to their just child, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished artist who’d satisfied her partner, Cesar Gonzmart, at the Tampa bistro. This theatrical pair brought enjoyment and artistry on the Columbia, establishing a showroom that managed many talented Latin performers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s authority, the Columbia extended to Sarasota and other places in Florida.

These days, certainly one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and kept his family members’ company heading. Richard Gonzmart is working at their family’s restaurants since he had been 12 years of age, so he or she is thoroughly knowledgeable about the environment and record. Richard can actually point out the table on Columbia Restaurant in which the guy and his partner had their own very first big date more than 43 in years past.

“there are plenty of romance right here, so we have a good story,” stated Michael. “below 15 restaurants in the United States tend to be family-owned and more than a century outdated, therefore we’re in pretty elite organization.”

Florida’s earliest restaurant has actually a satisfied and enduring record rooted in food, household, and fun. Michael informed you the 5th generation for the founding family members happens to be becoming groomed to take over 1 day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have chosen to take on productive control parts at the restaurants and generally are prepared to keep the family tradition choosing a lot more years into the future.

The Columbia has become known which includes of this greatest prizes for the restaurant business, such as induction into Nation’s eatery News’ “good Dining Hall of popularity,” won the “notable Restaurants of America (SiRoNA) Award of Excellence,” Florida Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “Best of honor of quality.”

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

The Columbia Restaurant sets a luxurious table and gives an enjoyable escape from daily life. It seduces the sensory faculties as soon as you walk in the doorways. You’re surrounded by greenery, liquid fountains, and artwork just like the noises of fun while the odors of fresh fish dishes waft through air. Before my personal order even gets to me, my throat is obviously watering with expectation. Fortunately, each visitor gets their very own freshly made loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, so I have actually one thing to meet my taste buds while I wait.

The 14-page eating plan is filled with great meals but also provides easy discussion starters for daters only getting to know one another. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat includes an enticing description in addition to interesting history details. Including, the bistro’s coconut frozen dessert was actually a well liked of frozen dessert entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd daughter of this original Columbia founder, and today this sweet recipe is supported within his respect.

From the vegetarian paella (Spanish rice mixed with satisfying greens) to your shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foodstuffs at the Columbia tend to be bursting with flavor. The shareable dishes, known as tapas, get this restaurant perfect for couples on a night out together because you can come better with each other by revealing small plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. It is simple to create a budget-friendly food by ordering many of those appetizers collectively — just remember to truly save room for treat!

The Très Amigos churros is a great choice for partners because they’re tactile, nice, and just somewhat dirty. You can dip the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s something for all. In addition, Columbia’s trademark light Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent dessert perfect for splitting with a night out together who may have a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler weblog called the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night spots, encouraging couples to “start off with Columbia’s well-known 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, right after which discuss a huge platter in the Paella a la Valenciana, filled with shellfish, fragrant grain, and chorizo.”

The intimate night will be all the more pleasurable should you set along with your dinner a glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a wealthy drink named after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and spouse.

Plus, at Columbia eatery, the sangria should perish for. Severely, it comes from the cup but you can additionally separate a pitcher of white or reddish sangria with a romantic date to improve your food knowledge. Nicely large cuts of fruit drift for the wine and infuse it with rich types. Whether you are buying this traditional sangria or among the many restaurant’s household wines, the high-caliber drinks cannot let you down.

Michael informed all of us the group tends to make an attempt available affordable but quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “Our wine option should be perfectly suited for the foodstuff we provide along with your price point,” he mentioned.

Countless Couples & groups Have Shared particular times Here

When In my opinion on the Columbia, I think associated with the night we chose to have dessert for supper, and my personal parents purchased churros, key lime pie, mango mousse cake, white candy breads pudding, and five spoons. I do believe of my personal twin-brother trying grouper the very first time on our 20th birthday and stating excitedly, “Take my personal picture” because the guy planned to reveal his sweetheart (that’s today their partner) he enjoyed taking in fish just as much as she performed.

In numerous steps, the Columbia is like all of our spot, but my loved ones isn’t really the only family getting made thoughts during this restaurant and its particular six sister locations across Fl. Folks arrived at the cafe at all stages of life since it provides an unique environment that sets really with any event.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were constant visitors of the Columbia in early 1950s. The Columbia staff settled tribute towards few and loving thoughts they provided at the restaurant by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed blend of tenderloin tips, boneless chicken, shrimp, and chicken — is a tasty indication in the very long reputation of love for the Columbia’s eating rooms.

Whether you are going on an initial time or celebrating a wedding anniversary, you will find intimacy and love achieve the gentle candlelight of the Columbia eatery.

“It is a targets,” Michael said, “to have folks feel like the Columbia is the place to come quickly to commemorate existence’s goals.”

The Columbia eatery has Family standards on Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with real dishes, divine atmospheres, and personable solution. The machines, at least at our Columbia in Sand Key, look closely at their visitors and tend to be fast to state “Welcome straight back” to devoted consumers which, like my family, are returning to the classy dining rooms over repeatedly.

This long-standing food organization provides cultivated and altered through the decades, nevertheless hasn’t forgotten its century-long household sources. Richard has ambitious intentions to provide diners and daters throughout Florida in years into the future. “All of our owner doesn’t rest,” Michael mentioned with fun. “He’s constantly fantasizing right up new things.”

The Columbia staff plans to start at least two brand-new restaurants within the impending decades. One will be easily positioned right across the street from the original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to start in fall 2018, are going to pay homage to a little town in Sicily in which a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the real eating plan aims to bring these family members a delicious indication of residence.

Enduring management and top quality types make the Columbia Restaurant as well as its aunt restaurants genuinely amazing places where singles and lovers can invest an evening with those they love finest.

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