The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Florida’s Oldest Eatery Creates an attractive Backdrop For The Romantic Times

The small variation: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has served Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and drinks that portray a long-standing family history. Founded by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains an area preferred because of its traditional ingredients and personable service. Over time, people from all over the world have come into the glamorous cafe to commemorate engagements, anniversaries, birthdays, also monumental moments. These days, the next and fifth years associated with family is the owner of and runs 13 different restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for okay dinner with a decent traditional family feel, you are able to reserve a table in spectacular and intimate food areas of this Columbia eatery.


For the past 3 decades, my loved ones’s favorite vacation destination has been an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Fl. We have eliminated there over 12 instances to create sand castles, area whales, and eat delicious dinners on patios ignoring the gulf.

We’ve thoroughly explored town’s bistro variety, searching out the best regional joints around, it just very takes place that the one restaurant each of us enjoy the majority of is within taking walks distance of our own resort. The Columbia Restaurant’s white-linen tablecloths, conscious service, and mouth-watering food make it our very own go-to place for supper.

Whenever we were young ones, my personal moms and dads would order you a parmesan cheese pizza while they went to this enchanting Spanish restaurant alone; but we currently enjoy tapas and drink as much because they carry out, therefore we’ve begun crashing their own night out — occasionally taking along times of one’s very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world atmosphere. Though itis the oldest restaurant in Florida, the business remains run of the descendants with the initial creator. Every product about menu features an account behind it, and several regarding the meals are transmitted from one generation from the Hernandez Gonzmart household to a higher. Household practice is a large an element of the Columbia’s selection, background, and method to solution.

«The staff normally slightly like family,» said Michael Kilgore, the main advertising Officer for any Columbia. «a number of our staff stay for 20 or thirty years. One of the things we like about our very own group is how much time they stick with you. They come here and discover a house.»

You can enjoy this comfortable and pleasant atmosphere on your subsequent date night when you go to any one of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia eatery presently serves guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you’re drinking drink on a picturesque balcony or viewing flamenco performers illuminate the period as you take in tapas, you are guaranteed to have an unforgettable night within Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can trace its record back once again to Dec. 17, 1903 — alike time the Wright brothers successfully tested the world’s first plane. That has been whenever a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began running a saloon for an area brewing company in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious entrepreneur turned the saloon into a popular 60-seat cafe known for their real Cuban coffee-and sandwiches. After their achievements, Casimiro purchased a cafe or restaurant nearby and converted it into an attractive dining room. In 1930, their boy took over control and process regarding the thriving restaurant.

Throughout Great Depression, their child Casimiro Jr. created the very first air-conditioned living area in Tampa. He hoped the upscale look and elevated dance flooring would draw individuals the bistro that assist all of them forget about their fears for a night. The Don Quixote Room was actually a hit, as well as the Columbia could keep the doors available while many various other businesses folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto their sole son or daughter, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an experienced artist who had satisfied her husband, Cesar Gonzmart, on Tampa restaurant. This theatrical pair introduced enjoyment and art towards Columbia, creating a showroom that managed many skilled Latin dancers and performers. Under Adela and Cesar’s authority, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota alongside areas in Florida.

These days, one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has brought the reins and kept their family’s business going. Richard Gonzmart has-been operating at their family members’ restaurants since he had been 12 yrs . old, so he could be closely knowledgeable about their atmosphere and background. Richard can actually point to the table on Columbia Restaurant in which the guy and his spouse had their own very first time significantly more than 43 years ago.

«there are plenty of romance right here, so we have actually a good story,» mentioned Michael. «below 15 restaurants in america are family-owned and most 100 years outdated, so we’re in pretty elite business.»

Fl’s oldest cafe has actually a happy and enduring history rooted in food, family, and enjoyable. Michael told us the fifth generation from the founding family members happens to be getting groomed to take over 1 day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have chosen to take on active administration functions at the restaurants and are usually prepared to keep consitently the family members practice choosing a lot more years to come.

The Columbia has been known which includes with the highest honors when you look at the restaurant sector, such as induction into country’s eatery News’ «good dinner Hall of popularity,» made the «notable Restaurants of united states (SiRoNA) honor of quality,» Florida Trend’s «Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,» and Wine Spectator’s «good Award of Excellence.»

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

The Columbia eatery sets a magnificent dining table and provides a wonderful escape from everyday life. It seduces your own sensory faculties from the moment you walk-in the doors. You’re enclosed by greenery, water fountains, and artwork due to the fact sounds of laughter and the smells of new fish dishes waft through air. Before my order also extends to myself, my personal lips is often watering with expectation. Thankfully, each guest becomes his / her own newly produced loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, therefore I have actually one thing to please my personal taste buds while we wait.

The 14-page eating plan is full of great meals and supplies easy dialogue starters for daters simply observing each other. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat has an enticing information together with interesting background information. Including, the cafe’s coconut ice-cream ended up being a preferred of ice cream business owner Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd son regarding the original Columbia creator, and today this nice recipe is actually offered in the respect.

From the vegetarian paella (Spanish grain blended with hearty vegetables) on shrimp supreme (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foods at Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable dishes, also known as tapas, get this bistro ideal for couples on a date because you can come better collectively by sharing little plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. You can easily create a budget-friendly dinner by buying a couple of of the appetizers together — just remember to save area for treat!

The Très Amigos churros is an outstanding option for lovers because they’re tactile, nice, and just some dirty. You’ll drop the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s a little for all. Plus, Columbia’s trademark light Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent treat perfect for splitting with a romantic date who has got a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site known as the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night places, promoting lovers to «start with Columbia’s well-known 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, and then share a massive platter from the Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, aromatic rice, and chorizo.»

Your romantic night will be all the greater number of enjoyable in the event that you set along with your food one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a refreshing drink called after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and spouse.

Plus, at Columbia eatery, the sangria is to die for. Seriously, it comes down of the glass you could also separate a pitcher of white or purple sangria with a night out together to improve your food experience. Amply big slices of fruit float during the drink and infuse it with rich types. Whether you are purchasing this classic sangria or among the bistro’s household wines, the high-caliber beverages try not to let you down.

Michael informed united states the group can make an effort to provide inexpensive but top quality wines to whet visitors’ appetites. «our very own drink option must perfectly fitted to the meal we offer and your selling price,» he mentioned.

Countless partners & groups have actually Shared Special times Here

When i do believe of this Columbia, I think for the night we chose to have treat for lunch, and my personal parents purchased churros, important lime pie, mango mousse cake, white chocolate loaves of bread dessert, and five spoons. In my opinion of my twin brother trying grouper the very first time on our very own 20th birthday celebration and claiming excitedly, «Take my personal photo» because he wanted to reveal his gf (who’s today their wife) he enjoyed eating fish approximately she did.

In numerous techniques, the Columbia feels as though all of our place, but my children isn’t the actual only real household having produced memories as of this restaurant as well as its six sister locations across Florida. People reach the cafe at all stages of existence as it provides a unique environment that pairs well with any celebration.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were repeated visitors associated with Columbia in early 1950s. The Columbia team paid tribute toward pair and the warm thoughts they contributed from the bistro by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe «Salteado» — a sautéed blend of tenderloin tips, boneless chicken breast, shrimp, and pork — is actually a tasty indication from the long history of romance for the Columbia’s eating areas.

Whether you are happening a first go out or celebrating a marriage anniversary, you’ll find intimacy and passion flourish in the comfortable candlelight on the Columbia eatery.

«It really is a goals,» Michael mentioned, «to own folks feel like the Columbia is the place to get to commemorate life’s goals.»

The Columbia eatery has Family Values into the Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with genuine meals, divine atmospheres, and personable service. The machines, no less than at our Columbia in Sand Key, watch their guests and they are fast to express «Welcome back» to dedicated customers whom, like my loved ones, are going back to the stylish eating spaces repeatedly.

This long-standing eating organization features grown and changed for the decades, however it has never forgotten about the century-long family members sources. Richard provides ambitious intends to offer diners and daters throughout Fl when you look at the years to come. «our very own proprietor doesn’t sleep,» Michael stated with a laugh. «he is always thinking upwards something new.»

The Columbia team plans to open at the very least two new restaurants into the coming decades. One will end up being conveniently located appropriate across the street from original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open in autumn 2018, can pay honor to a small town in Sicily in which most Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the real diet plan aims to bring these households a tasty reminder of residence.

Suffering leadership and high quality tastes result in the Columbia eatery as well as the cousin restaurants undoubtedly impressive locations where singles and partners can invest an evening together with those they love finest.

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