The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Florida's Oldest Restaurant Creates an attractive Backdrop For The Enchanting Moments | Fly Jet Ski The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Florida's Oldest Restaurant Creates an attractive Backdrop For The Enchanting Moments | Fly Jet Ski

The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Florida’s Oldest Restaurant Creates an attractive Backdrop For The Enchanting Moments

The Quick Version: Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has supported Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and drinks that portray a long-standing genealogy and family history. Based by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia stays a local favorite because of its old-fashioned ingredients and friendly solution. Through the years, individuals from all over the world came with the attractive restaurant to commemorate engagements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and other monumental times. Now, the next and 5th years from the family members has and operates 13 different restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for good eating with a good conventional family sense, you can reserve a table into the spectacular and passionate dinner spaces of the Columbia Restaurant.


Over the past 30 years, my children’s favorite holiday destination was an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Florida. We have eliminated here over 12 occasions to create sand castles, area dolphins, and eat delicious meals on patios overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

We’ve got completely discovered town’s restaurant option, searching the actual greatest regional joints about, nevertheless only very happens that the one bistro we enjoy many is actually within taking walks range your lodge. The Columbia Restaurant’s white linen tablecloths, mindful solution, and mouth-watering meals allow our very own go-to place for lunch.

Once we happened to be kids, my personal moms and dads would purchase us a parmesan cheese pizza pie as they checked out this passionate Spanish bistro by yourself; however, we have now enjoy tapas and wine as much because they do, therefore we’ve begun crashing their particular night out — occasionally taking along dates of our own very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world atmosphere. Although itis the oldest cafe in Fl, business still is operated from the descendants with the original founder. Every item from the diet plan has actually a story behind it, and many regarding the quality recipes have now been transmitted from one generation regarding the Hernandez Gonzmart household to the next. Family heritage is a large a portion of the Columbia’s menu, background, and approach to service.

“The staff can quite like family,” mentioned Michael Kilgore, the principle promotional Officer for Columbia. “a number of our employees stay for 20 or three decades. Among things we love about our party is actually the length of time they stick to us. They are available right here and discover a property.”

You can enjoy this comfortable and welcoming environment on your then night out by going to any one of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia eatery presently serves friends in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you’re drinking drink on a picturesque balcony or seeing flamenco dancers light the phase although you consume tapas, you’re guaranteed to have a remarkable evening within Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can track its record back once again to Dec. 17, 1903 — similar day the Wright brothers effectively tried the whole world’s basic plane. That has been when a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started working a saloon for a regional brewing business in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person turned the saloon into a favorite 60-seat cafe recognized for the authentic Cuban coffee-and sandwiches. Soon after their success, Casimiro purchased a cafe or restaurant across the street and converted it into an attractive dining room. In 1930, their son got over possession and procedure from the thriving bistro.

During Great anxiety, their boy Casimiro Jr. built the very first air-conditioned dining room in Tampa. He hoped their upscale appearance and raised party flooring would draw men and women to the cafe that assist them forget about their own worries for per night. The Don Quixote area had been a hit, and the Columbia could hold the doors open even though many other businesses collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto his just kid, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished artist who had satisfied her partner, Cesar Gonzmart, within Tampa restaurant. This theatrical set delivered entertainment and artistry towards the Columbia, establishing a showroom that managed numerous talented Latin performers and musicians. Under Adela and Cesar’s authority, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota along with other locations in Florida.

Now, one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has brought the reins and kept his family’s company heading. Richard Gonzmart has become operating at their family members’ restaurants since he had been 12 years of age, so he could be closely acquainted their environment and history. Richard may actually point out the dining table during the Columbia Restaurant where he with his girlfriend had their first day over 43 years ago.

“there are many love here, and we also have a fantastic story,” said Michael. “significantly less than 15 restaurants in the us are family-owned and more than a century outdated, therefore we’re in pretty elite organization.”

Florida’s earliest restaurant features a pleased and enduring background rooted in meals, household, and enjoyable. Michael told us the 5th generation of the founding household is now getting groomed to take control someday. Richard’s daughters and nephew have chosen to take in productive management roles within restaurants consequently they are prepared maintain family heritage choosing additional years to come.

The Columbia has become recognized with on the greatest awards into the restaurant market, including induction into country’s Restaurant Information’ “Fine eating Hall of Fame,” won the “notable Restaurants of America (SiRoNA) Award of quality,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “Best of honor of Excellence.”

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

The Columbia eatery establishes a luxurious dining table and offers a wonderful escape from everyday life. It seduces your own senses as soon as you walk in the doorways. You’re surrounded by greenery, drinking water fountains, and artwork just like the noise of laughter as well as the scents of fresh fish dishes waft through the air. Before my personal purchase also gets to me, my personal lips is often watering with anticipation. Fortunately, each visitor gets his/her own recently produced loaf of Cuban breads, so I have actually something you should please my personal taste buds while we wait.

The 14-page menu is filled with good food but provides easy discussion starters for daters only observing the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert is sold with an enticing explanation including fascinating back ground information. As an example, the cafe’s coconut ice cream was a preferred of frozen dessert business person Gustavo Hernandez, the next daughter in the initial Columbia president, and after this this nice plate is actually served within his honor.

From the vegetarian paella (Spanish rice mixed with satisfying veggies) toward shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foods at the Columbia are bursting with flavor. The shareable dishes, called tapas, make this restaurant well suited for partners on a romantic date since you may come closer collectively by discussing small plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. It’s easy to generate a budget-friendly dinner by purchasing many of these appetizers together — keep in mind to save place for treat!

The Très Amigos churros is an excellent option for couples because they’re tactile, nice, and simply some dirty. You are able to dip the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s something for all. Positive, Columbia’s signature light Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent dessert ideal for splitting with a romantic date having a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog called the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s leading date-night spots, encouraging lovers to “begin with Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, immediately after which share an enormous platter for the Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, fragrant grain, and chorizo.”

The enchanting evening will be all more enjoyable should you decide pair along with your meal one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a wealthy drink named after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and spouse.

Plus, at Columbia eatery, the sangria should perish for. Honestly, referring by the cup you could additionally separate a pitcher of white or purple sangria with a date to boost your food experience. Generously large pieces of fresh fruit drift into the drink and infuse it with rich types. Whether you’re ordering this classic sangria or among cafe’s family members wines, the high-caliber products try not to let you down.

Michael told you the team tends to make an attempt to offer inexpensive yet quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “All of our drink choice should be perfectly suited to the meal we serve and your price,” he said.

Many partners & Families Have Shared specialized Moments Here

When I think of the Columbia, In my opinion in the evening we decided to have treat for lunch, and my personal moms and dads purchased churros, essential lime pie, mango mousse dessert, white chocolate loaves of bread dessert, and five spoons. In my opinion of my personal twin brother trying grouper for the first time on our 20th birthday celebration and claiming excitedly, “get my personal photo” because the guy wanted to program their sweetheart (who is now their girlfriend) that he enjoyed taking in fish everything she did.

In plenty ways, the Columbia feels like our very own destination, but my children is not really the only family to possess made recollections at this bistro and its six sister locations across Fl. Men and women arrive at the bistro anyway phases of existence because it provides a particular atmosphere that sets really with any party.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be frequent friends associated with Columbia in the early 1950s. The Columbia employees paid tribute on pair additionally the warm thoughts they provided at the cafe by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed combination of tenderloin recommendations, boneless chicken white meat, shrimp, and chicken — is a tasty indication from the long reputation of relationship from inside the Columbia’s dining spaces.

Whether you are taking place a first date or celebrating a marriage anniversary, you will find closeness and passion achieve the soft candlelight associated with the Columbia eatery.

“its one of the goals,” Michael said, “to possess individuals feel as if the Columbia is the place to get to celebrate life’s goals.”

The Columbia Restaurant offers Family Values on the Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with authentic meals, divine atmospheres, and personable solution. The computers, about at the Columbia in Sand Key, pay attention to their particular friends and they are rapid to state “Welcome back” to dedicated customers which, like my loved ones, are time for the stylish eating areas repeatedly.

This long-standing dining place features cultivated and changed for the decades, nonetheless it never disregarded the century-long family members origins. Richard has committed intentions to provide diners and daters throughout Fl for the many years to come. “the proprietor does not sleep,” Michael mentioned with a laugh. “He’s always fantasizing right up new things.”

The Columbia staff intends to start at the very least two new restaurants from inside the coming decades. One will be easily positioned right next door from the original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to start in autumn 2018, can pay honor to limited community in Sicily in which a majority of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the authentic selection will bring these individuals a delicious note of home.

Suffering management and high quality types improve Columbia eatery and all of the sis restaurants truly impressive locations where singles and partners can spend an evening together with those they love most readily useful.