The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Fl’s Oldest Eatery Creates an attractive Backdrop To Suit Your Romantic Times

The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Fl’s Oldest Eatery Creates an attractive Backdrop To Suit Your Romantic Times

The brief Version: Since 1905, the Columbia eatery provides served Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and drinks that portray a long-standing genealogy. Launched by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains a regional preferred because of its conventional ingredients and personable solution. Through the years, individuals from all over the world came toward glamorous restaurant to celebrate involvements, anniversaries, birthdays, and various other monumental minutes. Now, the fourth and 5th years from the family members has and works 13 various restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for fine eating with a decent antique family feel, you can reserve a table within the stunning and romantic eating areas associated with the Columbia eatery.


Over the past three decades, my family’s favored holiday destination happens to be an oceanfront resort in Sand Key, Fl. We have now gone here over 12 times to create sand castles, spot dolphins, and consume delicious dishes on patios overlooking the gulf coast of florida.

We’ve got carefully explored the city’s restaurant variety, looking around from the most useful neighborhood joints about, nonetheless it only very happens that one bistro all of us enjoy most is within walking length of our lodge. The Columbia eatery’s white linen tablecloths, mindful service, and mouth-watering food make it our go-to area for lunch.

As soon as we happened to be kids, my parents would get united states a mozzarella cheese pizza while they visited this romantic Spanish bistro by yourself; however, we currently enjoy tapas and wine as much while they do, therefore we’ve started crashing their own date night — occasionally bringing along dates in our very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery provides wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world ambiance. Even though it’s the oldest cafe in Fl, the organization continues to be operated by the descendants with the initial creator. Every item throughout the menu features a tale behind it, and lots of in the quality recipes currently transmitted from one generation with the Hernandez Gonzmart family to another. Family members practice is a large part of the Columbia’s diet plan, history, and method of service.

“the employees can also be somewhat like family members,” mentioned Michael Kilgore, the main promotion Officer for the Columbia. “quite a few staff remain for 20 or 3 decades. One of the things we love about our very own group is the length of time they stay with all of us. They show up right here in order to find a house.”

You can enjoy this comfy and welcoming atmosphere on your own after that night out by visiting any one of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant at this time serves friends in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and party. Whether you are sipping wine on a picturesque balcony or enjoying flamenco dancers illuminate the level whilst you consume tapas, you’re guaranteed to have a memorable evening during the Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can track the background returning to Dec. 17, 1903 — the exact same time the Wright brothers successfully tried the world’s very first plane. That has been when a Cuban immigrant called Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began running a saloon for a regional making business in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person turned the saloon into a prominent 60-seat cafe noted for their authentic Cuban coffee and snacks. Following his achievements, Casimiro purchased a restaurant across the street and changed it into a striking dining area. In 1930, their daughter took over ownership and process regarding the flourishing bistro.

While in the Great Depression, his daughter Casimiro Jr. built the first air-conditioned dining indian chat room in Tampa. He hoped their trendy appearance and elevated party floor would draw individuals the bistro that assist them forget their own worries for a night. The Don Quixote area had been a winner, and Columbia managed to keep their doors available even though many various other companies collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia on to their just son or daughter, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an experienced musician that has came across her husband, Cesar Gonzmart, on Tampa cafe. This theatrical set introduced activity and art to your Columbia, establishing a showroom that hosted lots of skilled Latin dancers and musicians. Under Adela and Cesar’s management, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota and other areas in Fl.

Now, among Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and kept his family’s company heading. Richard Gonzmart has-been working at their family’s restaurants since he had been 12 years old, therefore he’s closely knowledgeable about the environment and history. Richard can actually point to the dining table within Columbia Restaurant in which he and his awesome girlfriend had their own basic go out over 43 years ago.

“there are many love right here, and in addition we have the tale,” said Michael. “under 15 restaurants in the us tend to be family-owned and most 100 years old, therefore we’re in pretty elite organization.”

Florida’s oldest restaurant provides a satisfied and enduring background rooted in food, family, and enjoyable. Michael told all of us the 5th generation from the founding family is currently becoming groomed to take over someday. Richard’s daughters and nephew have chosen to take in productive control roles in the restaurants consequently they are prepared to maintain the household tradition choosing more many years to come.

The Columbia might acknowledged with in the greatest honours in the cafe market, such as induction into Nation’s Restaurant Information’ “great eating Hall of popularity,” attained the “notable Restaurants of North America (SiRoNA) Award of quality,” Florida Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “good honor of Excellence.”

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

The Columbia eatery sets a lavish dining table and provides a delightful escape from everyday activity. It seduces your sensory faculties from the moment you walk in the doorways. You’re in the middle of greenery, drinking water fountains, and artwork once the sounds of fun plus the smells of new seafood dishes waft through atmosphere. Before my personal purchase also gets to myself, my personal mouth area is watering with anticipation. Thank goodness, each guest becomes his/her own recently produced loaf of Cuban breads, so I have actually something you should meet my personal taste buds while I wait.

The 14-page selection is filled with good food and supplies easy talk beginners for daters only learning the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat includes an enticing explanation together with interesting history details. Such as, the cafe’s coconut ice-cream was actually a favorite of frozen dessert business person Gustavo Hernandez, the third son associated with the initial Columbia founder, and today this sweet plate is served in the respect.

From vegetarian paella (Spanish grain combined with hearty vegetables) to your shrimp supreme (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the meals from the Columbia tend to be bursting with flavor. The shareable plates, known as tapas, get this restaurant well suited for lovers on a night out together as you can come closer collectively by revealing small dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. It is possible to make a budget-friendly meal by purchasing many of these appetizers collectively — keep in mind to save lots of place for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros could be a great selection for partners since they are tactile, nice, and merely only a little messy. You can easily dip the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s a little for everyone. Plus, Columbia’s trademark White Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent dessert excellent for splitting with a romantic date having a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site called the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s top date-night places, motivating couples to “start with Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, immediately after which share an enormous platter regarding the Paella a la Valenciana, full of shellfish, fragrant grain, and chorizo.”

The passionate evening will be all the greater amount of enjoyable should you combine along with your dinner a glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a wealthy wine known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and spouse.

Plus, on Columbia Restaurant, the sangria is to die for. Severely, it comes down by glass but you can in addition split a pitcher of white or red sangria with a date to boost the dinner knowledge. Amply huge cuts of fresh fruit float inside the wine and infuse it with rich styles. Whether you’re buying this traditional sangria or among the many bistro’s family members wines, the high-caliber beverages never let you down.

Michael told us the group makes an effort to offer inexpensive but high quality wines to whet guests’ appetites. “Our wine choice should really be perfectly designed for the meals we offer and your cost,” the guy mentioned.

Countless Couples & Families Have Shared particular times Here

When In my opinion associated with Columbia, i do believe on the night we chose to have dessert for lunch, and my parents ordered churros, crucial 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 the twentieth birthday and saying excitedly, “simply take my image” because the guy wanted to program their gf (that’s now their wife) that he loved taking in fish as much as she did.

In numerous methods, the Columbia feels as though our destination, but my loved ones actually truly the only household to own produced thoughts during that restaurant and its six sister places across Florida. Individuals come to the cafe whatsoever stages of existence as it provides an unique environment that sets really with any celebration.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were constant guests associated with the Columbia during the early 1950s. The Columbia staff members settled tribute to the few in addition to loving recollections they shared in the restaurant by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin recommendations, boneless chicken, shrimp, and pork — is actually a tasty indication in the long history of love inside Columbia’s eating spaces.

Whether you’re going on an initial go out or celebrating a wedding anniversary, you will discover closeness and enthusiasm achieve the soft candlelight associated with the Columbia eatery.

“its our objectives,” Michael mentioned, “getting men and women feel like the Columbia is where to come quickly to commemorate life’s goals.”

The Columbia Restaurant Brings Family Values to the Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with authentic dishes, divine atmospheres, and friendly service. The hosts, about at all of our Columbia in Sand Key, look closely at their particular visitors and are rapid to express “Welcome back” to faithful customers who, like my loved ones, find themselves going back to the stylish eating areas over and over.

This long-standing eating establishment provides cultivated and changed through the many years, nevertheless hasn’t ever disregarded the century-long family origins. Richard features challenging intentions to serve diners and daters throughout Florida inside many years to come. “the owner does not rest,” Michael stated with fun. “he is always fantasizing right up new things.”

The Columbia group intentions to open up no less than two brand new restaurants for the upcoming years. One will be easily positioned appropriate next door through the original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to open in fall 2018, can pay honor to a tiny village in Sicily in which a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the real diet plan aims to deliver these individuals a tasty reminder of residence.

Enduring authority and quality styles improve Columbia eatery and all of their aunt restaurants really remarkable spots in which singles and partners can invest a night together with those they love greatest.

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