The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Florida’s Oldest Restaurant Produces a Beautiful Backdrop To Suit Your Romantic Moments

<s stefano rotondotrong>The Quick Version: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant features served Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and drinks that signify a long-standing genealogy. Founded by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia stays an area preferred simply because of its old-fashioned meals and personable solution. Over the years, individuals from all over the globe attended to your glamorous restaurant to celebrate involvements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, also monumental times. Today, the fourth and 5th generations on the family has and operates 13 different restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re looking for okay dining with a decent traditional family experience, you can reserve a table from inside the spectacular and enchanting dinner rooms associated with the Columbia eatery.


Over the past three decades, my loved ones’s favored holiday destination happens to be an oceanfront resort in Sand Key, Fl. We have gone there over 12 occasions to create mud castles, place whales, and consume delicious meals on patios ignoring the gulf.

We have carefully investigated town’s restaurant choice, looking from greatest local bones about, however it only so happens the one restaurant most of us enjoy many is actually within walking length of your resort. The Columbia eatery’s white linen tablecloths, attentive solution, and mouth-watering food allow it to be all of our go-to spot for lunch.

As soon as we were kids, my personal moms and dads would get united states a mozzarella cheese pizza as they checked out this enchanting Spanish restaurant alone; but we now enjoy tapas and drink equally as much while they perform, therefore we’ve begun crashing their own night out — often providing along dates of one’s own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant provides wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world atmosphere. Though itis the earliest restaurant in Florida, the company remains operate of the descendants regarding the initial founder. Every object in the selection has actually a tale behind it, and several from the dishes currently transmitted from one generation associated with the Hernandez Gonzmart household to the next. Family tradition is a large a portion of the Columbia’s eating plan, background, and approach to service.

“the employees normally some like family,” mentioned Michael Kilgore, the Chief promotion Officer for any Columbia. “Many of our staff members stay for 20 or thirty years. The circumstances we like about the party is the length of time they stay with you. They come right here in order to find a house.”

You can enjoy this comfortable and inviting environment on the then night out when you go to any of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia eatery currently serves guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you’re sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or seeing flamenco dancers illuminate the phase whilst you eat tapas, you’re certain to have a remarkable evening in the Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can trace their history returning to Dec. 17, 1903 — alike day the Wright brothers successfully tried society’s first airplane. That was when a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started running a saloon for a nearby brewing business in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious entrepreneur switched the saloon into a prominent 60-seat cafe known for its genuine Cuban coffee-and snacks. Soon after their success, Casimiro purchased a cafe or restaurant across the street and converted it into an attractive living area. In 1930, his boy took over ownership and process associated with the thriving restaurant.

Throughout the Great Depression, his boy Casimiro Jr. built one air-conditioned dining area in Tampa. He hoped its upscale look and raised dancing floor would draw visitors to the bistro that assist them forget their own concerns for every night. The Don Quixote area was a success, as well as the Columbia could hold its doors open although additional businesses folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto his only kid, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an experienced musician who had came across the woman spouse, Cesar Gonzmart, during the Tampa cafe. This theatrical set delivered enjoyment and artistry on the Columbia, creating a showroom that hosted many talented Latin dancers and performers. Under Adela and Cesar’s management, the Columbia extended to Sarasota along with other locations in Florida.

Now, certainly Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and kept their family’s company heading. Richard Gonzmart is operating at his family’s restaurants since he had been 12 years old, very he’s thoroughly acquainted with the environment and background. Richard can indicate the table from the Columbia Restaurant where the guy along with his wife had their own first big date significantly more than 43 years back.

“There’s a lot of relationship here, therefore have actually the tale,” mentioned Michael. “lower than 15 restaurants in the usa tend to be family-owned and more than a century old, so we’re in pretty elite organization.”

Fl’s oldest cafe has a proud and enduring history grounded on food, family, and enjoyable. Michael told all of us the 5th generation associated with the founding family members is currently becoming groomed to take-over someday. Richard’s daughters and nephew took on active administration roles at restaurants and are usually ready to keep the household custom opting for more many years to come.

The Columbia happens to be acknowledged with in the highest awards in cafe business, such as induction into Nation’s eatery Information’ “Fine dinner Hall of popularity,” won the “notable Restaurants of united states (SiRoNA) honor of Excellence,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “good honor of quality.”

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

The Columbia Restaurant sets a lavish dining table and a wonderful escape from daily life. It seduces your own sensory faculties from the moment you walk-in the doorways. You are surrounded by greenery, water fountains, and artwork just like the noises of laughter together with scents of fresh fish dishes waft through the environment. Before my personal purchase also gets to myself, my personal mouth area is often watering with expectation. The good news is, each visitor gets his / her own newly produced loaf of Cuban bread, thus I have actually one thing to meet my personal taste buds while we wait.

The 14-page selection is filled with good meals but in addition provides simple dialogue beginners for daters just observing each other. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat has an enticing information plus fascinating background information. As an instance, the cafe’s coconut ice cream had been a preferred of frozen dessert business owner Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd daughter in the original Columbia creator, and today this nice recipe is actually supported within his honor.

From the vegetarian paella (Spanish rice mixed with hearty veggies) for the shrimp supreme (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the meals at Columbia are bursting with flavor. The shareable dishes, also known as tapas, get this to cafe ideal for lovers on a night out together since you may come better collectively by revealing little dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. You can generate a budget-friendly dinner by buying a couple of of these appetizers collectively — keep in mind to save lots of space for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros would-be an outstanding option for couples because they’re tactile, sweet, and just a little dirty. Possible dip the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s a little something for everyone. Positive, Columbia’s signature light Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent dessert perfect for splitting with a romantic date that has a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site named the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s leading date-night areas, motivating lovers to “start with Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, and then discuss a massive platter for the Paella a la Valenciana, full of shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo.”

The passionate evening will be all the greater amount of enjoyable in the event that you pair with your meal one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, a refreshing drink known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and girlfriend.

Plus, in the Columbia eatery, the sangria would be to perish for. Honestly, it comes down by glass you could also divide a pitcher of white or purple sangria with a romantic date to improve the eating knowledge. Generously huge cuts of good fresh fruit float for the drink and infuse it with wealthy tastes. Whether you are ordering this classic sangria or among restaurant’s family members wines, the high-caliber products try not to let you down.

Michael informed all of us the group tends to make an attempt to supply inexpensive yet high quality wines to whet guests’ appetites. “All of our wine selection need completely fitted to the meal we serve along with your price,” he stated.

Countless partners & groups have actually Shared Special Moments Here

When In my opinion in the Columbia, I think regarding the night we chose to have dessert for supper, and my moms and dads purchased churros, key lime pie, mango mousse meal, white candy loaves of bread dessert, and five spoons. In my opinion of my personal twin-brother attempting grouper for the first time on all of our twentieth birthday celebration and saying excitedly, “get my personal photo” because the guy planned to reveal his sweetheart (who is today his spouse) that he loved eating fish around she performed.

In a lot of techniques, the Columbia feels like our destination, but my loved ones isn’t really truly the only family to own made recollections during this cafe as well as its six sister areas across Florida. Individuals come to the cafe anyway phases of existence since it supplies an unique environment that sets really with any gathering.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were frequent guests of the Columbia during the early 1950s. The Columbia staff settled tribute to your pair additionally the enjoying memories they contributed in the cafe by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed blend of tenderloin tips, boneless chicken white meat, shrimp, and pork — is actually a delicious reminder associated with extended reputation of love from inside the Columbia’s eating spaces.

Whether you are going on an initial big date or remembering a marriage anniversary, you will discover closeness and enthusiasm achieve the soft candlelight for the Columbia eatery.

“It’s one of the targets,” Michael mentioned, “to possess individuals feel as if the Columbia is the place to come calmly to celebrate existence’s milestones.”

The Columbia eatery offers household Values into the Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with authentic meals, divine atmospheres, and personable service. The servers, no less than at the Columbia in Sand Key, look closely at their unique guests and they are quick to state “Welcome straight back” to dedicated clients exactly who, like my family, find themselves time for the classy dining rooms time and again.

This long-standing eating establishment provides grown and altered throughout the many years, but it hasn’t disregarded the century-long family members sources. Richard has ambitious intends to offer diners and daters throughout Fl in the a long time. “Our manager does not rest,” Michael stated with fun. “he is usually fantasizing right up something totally new.”

The Columbia group intentions to open up at the very least two new restaurants inside impending years. One will end up being conveniently positioned right next door through the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to open up in fall 2018, will probably pay honor to a tiny community in Sicily where most Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the genuine diet plan aims to bring these households a tasty note of house.

Suffering authority and top quality styles make the Columbia eatery and all its cousin restaurants really impressive places in which singles and partners can invest an evening with those they like finest.