The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Florida’s Oldest Restaurant Produces an attractive Backdrop For Your Intimate Moments

The Short type: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually offered Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and products that portray a long-standing family history. Based by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains a regional preferred because of its old-fashioned foods and personable service. Over the years, folks from world-wide have come into the glamorous bistro to celebrate engagements, anniversaries, birthdays, and various other monumental minutes. Nowadays, the fourth and fifth years in the household owns and runs 13 different restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re looking for fine dining with a decent old-fashioned family sense, possible reserve a table into the stunning and intimate eating areas with the Columbia Restaurant.


Over the past 30 years, my loved ones’s favored vacation destination is an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Florida. We’ve eliminated indeed there over 12 instances to create mud castles, spot whales, and consume tasty meals on patios overlooking the gulf coast of florida.

We now have completely discovered town’s cafe variety, looking from the greatest local bones around, nevertheless merely very takes place the one bistro everyone enjoy the majority of is actually within walking range of our own resort. The Columbia Restaurant’s white-linen tablecloths, attentive service, and mouth-watering food enable it to be the go-to place for dinner.

When we happened to be kids, my parents would get us a parmesan cheese pizza even though they visited this enchanting Spanish cafe by yourself; however, we now enjoy tapas and drink as much while they perform, so we’ve begun crashing their date night — occasionally delivering along dates of our own own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world ambiance. Although itis the oldest cafe in Florida, business is still operated because of the descendants associated with the original creator. Every object on the eating plan has a tale behind it, and many associated with dishes have already been transmitted from one generation from the Hernandez Gonzmart household to a higher. Household tradition is an enormous the main Columbia’s eating plan, history, and approach to service.

“the employees can also be quite like household,” mentioned Michael Kilgore, the main promotion Officer when it comes to Columbia. “quite a few staff members remain for 20 or thirty years. Among situations we love about all of our team is the length of time they stick to all of us. They come right here in order to find a property.”

You may enjoy this comfy and pleasant atmosphere in your subsequent date night by going to any one of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant currently serves visitors in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you’re drinking wine on a picturesque balcony or watching flamenco dancers light up the phase when you consume tapas, you are guaranteed to have a remarkable night from the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can track the record back once again to Dec. 17, 1903 — similar day the Wright brothers successfully tested the whole world’s very first plane. Which was whenever a Cuban immigrant called Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began working a saloon for a local preparing company in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business owner turned the saloon into a popular 60-seat cafe recognized for their genuine Cuban coffee and snacks. After his achievements, Casimiro purchased a cafe or restaurant next door and switched it into a gorgeous living area. In 1930, their boy got more than ownership and procedure on the flourishing cafe.

Throughout the Great Depression, their boy Casimiro Jr. built the initial air-conditioned dining room in Tampa. He hoped the upscale appearance and elevated party floor would draw men and women to the cafe and help all of them forget about their particular fears for every night. The Don Quixote place was a success, while the Columbia could keep their doors available while many various other businesses folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia to his sole youngster, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished artist who’d met her partner, Cesar Gonzmart, at Tampa bistro. This theatrical pair brought entertainment and artistry into Columbia, establishing a showroom that hosted lots of talented Latin performers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s management, the Columbia extended to Sarasota and other areas in Florida.

Now, among Adela and Cesar’s two sons has had the reins and held their family’s company heading. Richard Gonzmart happens to be operating at his family’s restaurants since he was 12 years old, thus he or she is closely acquainted with the environment and background. Richard can actually indicate the dining table during the Columbia eatery where he along with his partner had their unique basic time more than 43 years ago.

“there are many relationship right here, and now we have an excellent tale,” stated Michael. “significantly less than 15 restaurants in the usa tend to be family-owned and most a century outdated, so we’re in pretty elite business.”

Fl’s oldest cafe has a proud and enduring background grounded on food, household, and fun. Michael told all of us the fifth generation from the founding family members happens to be being groomed to take-over eventually. Richard’s daughters and nephew took on energetic management functions within restaurants and therefore are prepared keep your family tradition opting for more a long time.

The Columbia has-been acknowledged with regarding the greatest awards in cafe market, such as induction into country’s Restaurant Information’ “great eating Hall of popularity,” gained the “Distinguished Restaurants of united states (SiRoNA) Award of Excellence,” Florida Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of quality.”

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

The Columbia eatery sets a magnificent table and a wonderful escape from daily life. It seduces the sensory faculties from the moment you walk in the doors. You are in the middle of greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork once the noise of laughter while the smells of fresh fish and shellfish dishes waft through atmosphere. Before my purchase actually extends to me personally, my lips is definitely watering with expectation. The good news is, each guest becomes his/her own newly produced loaf of Cuban breads, therefore I have one thing to please my tastebuds while we wait.

The 14-page selection is filled with great food but also supplies effortless conversation beginners for daters merely learning the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat is sold with an enticing information in addition to fascinating history details. As an instance, the restaurant’s coconut ice-cream was a preferred of ice-cream business person Gustavo Hernandez, the third son from the original Columbia founder, and today this nice dish is actually offered in the respect.

From the vegetarian paella (Spanish rice combined with hearty veggies) on shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the meals in the Columbia are bursting with taste. The shareable plates, labeled as tapas, get this to bistro suitable for lovers on a date as you will come closer with each other by revealing small plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. It is possible to create a budget-friendly food by buying multiple among these appetizers with each other — keep in mind to truly save place for treat!

The Très Amigos churros will be an outstanding option for lovers because they’re tactile, nice, and simply somewhat dirty. You can dip the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s a little something for everybody. Additionally, Columbia’s signature light Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent treat ideal for splitting with a night out together who has a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog named the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night places, encouraging couples to “begin with Columbia’s well-known 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, immediately after which share a huge platter from the Paella a la Valenciana, filled with shellfish, fragrant grain, and chorizo.”

Your own intimate night will be all more pleasurable should you set together with your meal one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, a rich wine named after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and spouse.

Plus, on Columbia Restaurant, the sangria will be perish for. Honestly, referring from the cup you could additionally divide a pitcher of white or reddish sangria with a romantic date to improve your own eating knowledge. Generously large pieces of good fresh fruit drift in the drink and infuse it with rich flavors. Whether you are ordering this traditional sangria or among the many restaurant’s family members wines, the high-caliber beverages usually do not disappoint.

Michael told united states the team makes an effort to provide inexpensive yet top quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “Our drink choice need completely designed for the meal we provide along with your price,” the guy stated.

Countless partners & Families have actually Shared Special times Here

When I think in the Columbia, I think on the night we chose to have dessert for supper, and my moms and dads ordered churros, important lime pie, mango mousse meal, white candy breads dessert, and five spoons. I think of my personal twin-brother attempting grouper for the first time on our very own twentieth birthday and stating excitedly, “Take my personal photo” because he desired to program their sweetheart (that is today his girlfriend) he enjoyed taking in fish as much as she did.

In many means, the Columbia feels like our very own spot, but my family actually the sole household getting generated memories at this bistro and its own six sister areas across Florida. Men and women visited the cafe whatsoever phases of life as it supplies an unique environment that sets well with any gathering.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be repeated guests with the Columbia in early 1950s. The Columbia team paid tribute to the few therefore the enjoying memories they shared in the restaurant by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed blend of tenderloin tips, boneless chicken, shrimp, and chicken — is actually a tasty reminder associated with the lengthy reputation for romance within the Columbia’s dining rooms.

Whether you’re taking place a first day or honoring a wedding anniversary, you’ll find intimacy and love achieve the smooth candlelight associated with the Columbia Restaurant.

“its one of the objectives,” Michael said, “getting people feel as if the Columbia is where to get to celebrate life’s milestones.”

The Columbia Restaurant offers group standards for the Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with genuine dishes, divine atmospheres, and personable solution. The servers, about at our Columbia in Sand Key, watch their visitors and tend to be quick to state “Welcome back” to devoted clients exactly who, like my loved ones, end up going back to the classy eating areas over and over.

This long-standing dinner organization features expanded and altered through the many years, nevertheless never forgotten about their century-long family members origins. Richard provides committed plans to provide diners and daters throughout Fl inside the years into the future. “All of our owner doesn’t sleep,” Michael stated with a laugh. “He’s always dreaming right up new things.”

The Columbia staff intentions to open up about two new restaurants into the coming decades. One will end up being easily found correct next door from original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to start in autumn 2018, are going to pay homage to a little community in Sicily in which a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants emerged from — the real diet plan aims to bring these families a delicious indication of home.

Suffering management and high quality types make Columbia Restaurant and all of the aunt restaurants genuinely remarkable spots where singles and partners can invest an evening together with those they love finest.

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