The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Florida’s Oldest Restaurant Creates a lovely Backdrop For Your Intimate Moments

The brief variation: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually offered Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and products that express a long-standing genealogy and family history. Founded by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains an area preferred due to the standard ingredients and friendly solution. Through the years, people from all around the globe have come on the attractive restaurant to celebrate engagements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and other monumental moments. These days, the last and 5th years of this household owns and functions 13 different restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re searching for great dining with a decent traditional household experience, you’ll reserve a table when you look at the spectacular and enchanting eating rooms of the Columbia eatery.


For the past 30 years, my children’s favored destination has-been an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Florida. We have eliminated truth be told there over a dozen instances to construct mud castles, spot dolphins, and consume delicious dishes on patios ignoring the gulf coast of florida.

We now have completely investigated the town’s bistro choice, looking around out of the greatest local hookup bones around, but it simply therefore occurs your one cafe all of us enjoy many is within strolling distance of your lodge. The Columbia eatery’s white-linen tablecloths, conscious service, and mouth-watering meals succeed the go-to area for lunch.

As soon as we were children, my personal parents would order us a cheddar pizza pie as they went to this intimate Spanish restaurant by yourself; but we now enjoy tapas and drink equally as much because they carry out, therefore we’ve started crashing their date night — often bringing along times of your own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant features wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world atmosphere. Although it’s the earliest cafe in Fl, the business enterprise still is operated because of the descendants with the original president. Every object regarding diet plan features an account behind it, and several of the meals were handed over from one generation of this Hernandez Gonzmart family members to the next. Household heritage is a large part of the Columbia’s menu, record, and method of service.

“The staff is a little like family,” said Michael Kilgore, the principle Marketing Officer for the Columbia. “quite a few employees stay for 20 or three decades. One of the things we love about our very own party is actually how much time they stick with all of us. They arrive right here in order to find a house.”

You may enjoy this comfy and welcoming environment on your after that date night by going to any of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant currently serves guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater seashore, and Celebration. Whether you are sipping wine on a picturesque balcony or viewing flamenco performers illuminate the period when you consume tapas, you are sure to have a memorable night during the Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can track their record back to Dec. 17, 1903 — similar time the Wright brothers successfully tested the planet’s basic aircraft. That was whenever a Cuban immigrant known as Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started working a saloon for a regional brewing organization in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person turned the saloon into popular 60-seat cafe noted for the authentic Cuban coffee and sandwiches. Soon after his success, Casimiro purchased a restaurant next-door and switched it into a striking dining area. In 1930, their daughter took more than control and operation from the flourishing restaurant.

During the Great anxiety, his boy Casimiro Jr. created the initial air-conditioned dining room in Tampa. He hoped its upscale look and raised party flooring would draw people to the cafe that assist them forget about their own fears for a night. The Don Quixote area had been a winner, therefore the Columbia managed to keep its doorways available even though many additional organizations folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia to his just youngster, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an established musician that has satisfied her partner, Cesar Gonzmart, from the Tampa restaurant. This theatrical pair delivered activity and artistry on the Columbia, developing a showroom that managed many talented Latin performers and performers. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia extended to Sarasota as well as other places in Florida.

Now, certainly Adela and Cesar’s two sons has had the reins and kept their family members’ company heading. Richard Gonzmart might working at his family members’ restaurants since he had been 12 years old, therefore he could be thoroughly acquainted their atmosphere and history. Richard can indicate the dining table on Columbia Restaurant where he and his girlfriend had their very first time more than 43 years back.

“there are plenty of relationship right here, and then we have actually a fantastic story,” mentioned Michael. “not as much as 15 restaurants in the usa tend to be family-owned and most a century outdated, so we’re in pretty elite company.”

Florida’s oldest bistro features a pleased and enduring background rooted in food, family, and fun. Michael informed you the 5th generation of founding household is becoming groomed to take control of eventually. Richard’s daughters and nephew took in active management parts at the restaurants and generally are prepared to keep carefully the family members tradition choosing a lot more a long time.

The Columbia happens to be recognized which includes associated with the greatest prizes in cafe business, such as induction into Nation’s Restaurant News’ “great eating Hall of Fame,” received the “Distinguished Restaurants of America (SiRoNA) Award of Excellence,” Florida Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “good Award of Excellence.”

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

The Columbia eatery establishes a luxurious table and provides a delightful escape from everyday 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 because the noise of fun as well as the scents of new seafood meals waft through the atmosphere. Before my personal order also extends to me personally, my mouth area is often watering with anticipation. Thank goodness, each visitor becomes their own recently generated loaf of Cuban bread, thus I have something to meet my taste buds while I wait.

The 14-page eating plan is full of good meals but also provides effortless dialogue starters for daters only observing the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat comes with an enticing description plus fascinating history info. For-instance, the bistro’s coconut ice cream was a favorite of ice cream entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the third daughter in the initial Columbia founder, now this nice meal is offered within his respect.

From veggie paella (Spanish grain blended with hearty vegetables) to the shrimp great (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the meals at the Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable plates, also known as tapas, get this restaurant well suited for partners on a date because you may come closer together by sharing small dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. It’s easy to generate a budget-friendly dinner by purchasing certain among these appetizers collectively — keep in mind to save area for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros might be a great selection for lovers because they’re tactile, nice, and just a little dirty. You can drop the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s a little something for all. Positive, Columbia’s signature light Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent dessert perfect for splitting with a date who’s got a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler web log called the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s top date-night spots, encouraging partners to “start off with Columbia’s well-known 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, and then share a huge platter from the Paella a la Valenciana, filled with shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo.”

Your own passionate evening will be all more satisfying any time you set with your dinner a glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a rich drink named after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and partner.

Plus, on Columbia Restaurant, the sangria will be die for. Honestly, it comes down by cup you could in addition divide a pitcher of white or yellow sangria with a date to improve the food knowledge. Nicely big slices of fruit float when you look at the wine and infuse it with rich styles. Whether you are purchasing this traditional sangria or one of the restaurant’s household wines, the high-caliber beverages you should never let you down.

Michael informed all of us the team helps make an attempt to provide affordable but top quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “the drink selection should-be perfectly fitted to the meals we provide plus cost,” he stated.

Many partners & households have actually Shared particular Moments Here

When i do believe on the Columbia, I think associated with evening we made a decision to have dessert for supper, and my personal parents ordered churros, essential lime pie, mango mousse meal, white chocolate bread dessert, and five spoons. I do believe of my personal twin-brother trying grouper for the first time on the twentieth birthday and stating excitedly, “get my personal image” because he desired to program their sweetheart (who is now his girlfriend) that he liked taking fish approximately she performed.

In numerous steps, the Columbia feels as though all of our spot, but my children isn’t really really the only family members getting generated memories during that restaurant and its particular six sister areas across Fl. Individuals arrived at the restaurant whatsoever phases of life as it provides a particular environment that pairs well with any gathering.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be constant friends on the Columbia in early 1950s. The Columbia personnel settled tribute into the couple therefore the enjoying thoughts they shared at the bistro by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed combination of tenderloin tips, boneless chicken, shrimp, and pork — is actually a tasty note associated with very long reputation of love from inside the Columbia’s dining rooms.

Whether you are taking place a primary day or celebrating a wedding anniversary, you will discover intimacy and love flourish in the comfortable candlelight of the Columbia Restaurant.

“It really is a goals,” Michael mentioned, “having individuals feel like the Columbia is the place to come to celebrate existence’s goals.”

The Columbia eatery offers household Values for the Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with genuine dishes, divine atmospheres, and friendly solution. The hosts, about at our very own Columbia in Sand Key, pay attention to their own guests as they are fast to express “Welcome straight back” to faithful clients who, like my children, are returning to the classy eating areas over repeatedly.

This long-standing dining organization provides grown and altered through the decades, nevertheless has never disregarded the century-long family origins. Richard has ambitious plans to serve diners and daters throughout Florida when you look at the a long time. “the holder doesn’t sleep,” Michael stated with a laugh. “He’s usually fantasizing right up something new.”

The Columbia team plans to open about two brand-new restaurants into the following decades. One will be conveniently situated appropriate next door from the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to start in fall 2018, pay honor to a small community in Sicily in which a majority of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants came from — the real eating plan will bring these families a tasty reminder of home.

Suffering leadership and top quality tastes improve Columbia eatery and all of its brother restaurants really amazing locations in which singles and lovers can invest a night with those they like most useful.

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