The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Fl’s Oldest Eatery Produces a lovely Backdrop For Your Romantic Times

The Short variation: Since 1905, the Columbia eatery provides served Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and products that represent a long-standing family history. Created by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia continues to be a regional favorite due to the old-fashioned meals and personable solution. Over time, people from world-wide attended on glamorous restaurant to celebrate engagements, anniversaries, birthdays, alongside monumental minutes. Now, the 4th and 5th generations of the family possesses and functions 13 various restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re searching for great eating with a good traditional family sense, you can reserve a table in stunning and passionate eating areas from the Columbia eatery.


For the past three decades, my loved ones’s favored holiday destination has-been an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Florida. We have eliminated here over 12 occasions to build sand castles, place dolphins, and eat tasty dinners on patios overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

We now have thoroughly investigated the town’s cafe option, searching from most useful neighborhood joints around, nevertheless only so happens that the one cafe each of us enjoy the majority of is within taking walks range of your resort. The Columbia eatery’s white-linen tablecloths, conscious solution, and mouth-watering food allow it to be our very own go-to spot for dinner.

When we happened to be kids, my moms and dads would purchase all of us a cheese pizza even though they went to this romantic Spanish bistro by yourself; however, we now enjoy tapas and wine as much as they do, so we’ve begun crashing their own date night — occasionally bringing along dates of your very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery provides wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world ambiance. Although it’s the earliest bistro in Fl, the business still is run from the descendants on the original creator. Every item from the diet plan has actually a tale behind it, and several of the quality recipes currently transmitted from one generation of this Hernandez Gonzmart family to another location. Family members practice is a large area of the Columbia’s eating plan, history, and way of solution.

«The staff is also quite like family members,» stated Michael Kilgore, the main promotional Officer when it comes to Columbia. «quite a few employees remain for 20 or 3 decades. Among things we like about our group is actually just how long they stay with united states. They are available here and discover property.»

You may enjoy this comfortable and pleasant atmosphere on the after that date night when you go to any one of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant presently acts visitors in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you’re sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or enjoying flamenco performers light the stage as you take in tapas, you are certain to have a remarkable night during the Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can trace their history back to Dec. 17, 1903 — the same time the Wright brothers effectively tested the entire world’s first airplane. Which was when a Cuban immigrant known as Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began operating a saloon for a local preparing organization in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person switched the saloon into a well known 60-seat cafe known for its authentic Cuban coffee-and sandwiches. After their achievements, Casimiro ordered a restaurant across the street and changed it into a striking dining area. In 1930, their boy got over possession and operation from the thriving restaurant.

During the Great anxiety, his son Casimiro Jr. created the first air-conditioned living area in Tampa. The guy hoped its upscale look and raised party floor would draw people to the bistro and help all of them forget their unique concerns for per night. The Don Quixote Room was a success, therefore the Columbia surely could keep its doors available although additional organizations collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia to their sole son or daughter, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an established musician that has fulfilled her husband, Cesar Gonzmart, within Tampa restaurant. This theatrical set introduced enjoyment and art to the Columbia, developing a showroom that managed many skilled Latin performers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s management, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota along with other areas in Florida.

These days, certainly Adela and Cesar’s two sons has had the reins and held his family’s business going. Richard Gonzmart is operating at their family members’ restaurants since he had been 12 years old, so he or she is intimately familiar with the environment and history. Richard may actually point to the dining table within Columbia Restaurant in which the guy and his wife had their unique basic time more than 43 years ago.

«There’s a lot of relationship right here, and now we have a fantastic story,» stated Michael. «significantly less than 15 restaurants in america are family-owned and more than 100 years outdated, so we’re in pretty elite organization.»

Florida’s earliest cafe provides a pleased and enduring background grounded on food, household, and enjoyable. Michael told all of us the fifth generation regarding the founding household is now becoming groomed to take-over one day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have taken in effective administration functions at restaurants and generally are prepared maintain the family practice choosing a lot more many years to come.

The Columbia was known with some of this highest awards for the restaurant business, such as induction into Nation’s eatery News’ «Fine food Hall of popularity,» gained the «Distinguished Restaurants of the united states (SiRoNA) honor of Excellence,» Fl Trend’s «Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,» and Wine Spectator’s «Best of honor of Excellence.»

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

The Columbia Restaurant sets a luxurious dining table and offers a delightful getting away from everyday activity. It seduces your senses from the moment you walk in the doors. You’re surrounded by greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork because noise of fun together with smells of fresh fish and shellfish dishes waft through the atmosphere. Before my personal order also reaches me, my mouth is often watering with expectation. Thank goodness, each guest becomes his / her very own freshly generated loaf of Cuban breads, therefore I have something you should fulfill my taste buds while I wait.

The 14-page eating plan is full of good meals but in addition supplies easy dialogue beginners for daters only getting to know one another. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat has an enticing explanation together with fascinating background details. For example, the restaurant’s coconut frozen dessert was actually a well liked of frozen dessert business person Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd daughter with the initial Columbia founder, and today this nice meal is served inside the respect.

Through the vegetarian paella (Spanish rice mixed with satisfying vegetables) into shrimp great (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the foodstuffs from the Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable dishes, known as tapas, get this to bistro suitable for couples on a romantic date as you may come better collectively by discussing small dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. It is possible to generate a budget-friendly meal by buying a couple of of the appetizers together — keep in mind to save lots of area for treat!

The Très Amigos churros could well be an outstanding option for partners because they’re tactile, nice, and merely slightly dirty. It is possible to dip the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s something for everyone. Plus, Columbia’s trademark light Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent dessert ideal for splitting with a romantic date having a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler web log called the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night spots, promoting couples to «begin with Columbia’s famous 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, following discuss a massive plate associated with Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo.»

Your enchanting night will be-all the greater number of pleasurable if you pair together with your dinner one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, a refreshing drink named after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and spouse.

Plus, on Columbia Restaurant, the sangria is perish for. Severely, it comes of the cup but you can also split a pitcher of white or red-colored sangria with a date to boost the food experience. Nicely big cuts of fresh fruit float within the wine and infuse it with rich types. Whether you are buying this traditional sangria or among the restaurant’s family members wines, the high-caliber beverages cannot disappoint.

Michael informed you the team tends to make an effort to provide affordable however top quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. «Our drink variety must be perfectly suited to the meal we serve and your cost,» he mentioned.

Many partners & households have actually Shared specialized Moments Here

When i do believe on the Columbia, i do believe of night we chose to have treat for dinner, and my personal parents bought churros, important lime pie, mango mousse meal, white chocolate loaves of bread dessert, and five spoons. I believe of my twin-brother attempting grouper for the first time on our twentieth birthday and claiming excitedly, «just take my photo» because he desired to show his girlfriend (that is today their spouse) that he liked taking in fish just as much as she performed.

In so many means, the Columbia feels as though all of our destination, but my family isn’t really truly the only family members having generated memories during this bistro and its six sister locations across Fl. Men and women come to the cafe at all stages of life since it supplies a special atmosphere that pairs really with any celebration.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were repeated visitors from the Columbia during the early 1950s. The Columbia staff paid tribute into few plus the warm thoughts they contributed from the bistro by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe «Salteado» — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin recommendations, boneless chicken white meat, shrimp, and pork — is actually a tasty indication in the long reputation for romance for the Columbia’s eating spaces.

Whether you’re happening a primary date or celebrating a marriage anniversary, you will find intimacy and passion flourish in the comfortable candlelight of this Columbia eatery.

«It is our targets,» Michael said, «having men and women feel like the Columbia is where to come quickly to celebrate existence’s goals.»

The Columbia eatery offers household Values for the Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with authentic meals, divine atmospheres, and friendly service. The servers, at least at our very own Columbia in Sand Key, watch their unique friends and are fast to state «Welcome straight back» to devoted clients which, like my family, find themselves returning to the stylish dining spaces again and again.

This long-standing food place features grown and altered for the decades, nonetheless it hasn’t disregarded their century-long household sources. Richard provides ambitious intends to provide diners and daters throughout Florida for the years into the future. «the proprietor doesn’t sleep,» Michael said with fun. «He’s usually thinking up something totally new.»

The Columbia team intentions to open up at least two brand-new restaurants for the coming decades. One will end up being easily situated right across the street through the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open up in autumn 2018, can pay honor to limited community in Sicily where a majority of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the real selection will deliver these families a tasty indication of house.

Enduring leadership and top quality styles result in the Columbia Restaurant and all their aunt restaurants genuinely great places in which singles and partners can spend an evening together with those they like finest.