The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Fl’s Oldest Restaurant Creates a lovely Background For Your Enchanting Times

The Quick variation: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually supported Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and beverages that express a long-standing family history. Based by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia continues to be an area favorite simply because of its standard foods and friendly solution. Over time, folks from worldwide attended on the glamorous restaurant to commemorate engagements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, as well as other monumental times. These days, the fourth and 5th years with the family members possesses and works 13 various restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re searching for good dinner with a good old-fashioned family experience, you are able to reserve a table in the stunning and romantic dining spaces associated with Columbia Restaurant.


For the past thirty years, my family’s favorite vacation destination has been an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Fl. We have eliminated indeed there over twelve times to construct sand castles, place dolphins, and consume delicious meals on patios ignoring the gulf.

We’ve got completely explored the town’s cafe choice, looking around the actual most useful regional joints about, nonetheless it simply thus happens your one cafe everyone enjoy many is within strolling length of our lodge. The Columbia Restaurant’s white-linen tablecloths, conscious service, and mouth-watering meals make it our go-to place for dinner.

As soon as we had been young ones, my personal moms and dads would purchase united states a parmesan cheese pizza even though they went to this passionate Spanish cafe alone; but we have now enjoy tapas and wine equally as much while they carry out, therefore we’ve begun crashing their particular date night — sometimes taking along dates of our own very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery provides wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world ambiance. Although it’s the oldest restaurant in Fl, the business is still operate of the descendants associated with initial creator. Every object regarding eating plan has actually a story behind it, and several of quality recipes happen transmitted from one generation of this Hernandez Gonzmart family members to the next. Household heritage is an enormous an element of the Columbia’s menu, history, and way of solution.

“the employees is some like household,” stated Michael Kilgore, the Chief promotion Officer the Columbia. “quite a few employees remain for 20 or 3 decades. Among the many situations we love about our very own group is actually the length of time they stick to all of us. They show up right here in order to find property.”

You may enjoy this comfy and pleasant environment in your next date night by going to any of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant at this time serves guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater seashore, and Celebration. Whether you are sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or enjoying flamenco dancers illuminate the period whilst you consume tapas, you are sure to have an unforgettable evening at Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can locate its record back again to Dec. 17, 1903 — similar day the Wright brothers effectively tried the planet’s very first airplane. Which was when a Cuban immigrant called Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started running a saloon for a local hookup brewing company in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person switched the saloon into a popular 60-seat cafe recognized for the real Cuban coffee and sandwiches. Following their success, Casimiro ordered a restaurant next-door and changed it into a striking living area. In 1930, his boy got over possession and operation associated with thriving cafe.

During the Great anxiety, their boy Casimiro Jr. created one air-conditioned dining area in Tampa. The guy hoped their upscale appearance and elevated party floor would draw men and women to the bistro and help all of them forget their own fears for per night. The Don Quixote area had been popular, as well as the Columbia surely could hold the doorways available while many other organizations folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto his only son or daughter, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished musician who had came across the woman husband, Cesar Gonzmart, during the Tampa bistro. This theatrical pair introduced entertainment and artistry towards the Columbia, developing a showroom that hosted lots of talented Latin dancers and performers. Under Adela and Cesar’s management, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota along with other locations in Fl.

Now, among Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and kept their family members’ company going. Richard Gonzmart has been functioning at his family members’ restaurants since he had been 12 yrs old, therefore he is closely knowledgeable about its atmosphere and history. Richard can indicate the dining table at Columbia eatery in which the guy with his wife had their particular first time over 43 in years past.

“there are plenty of romance here, and we have a fantastic story,” stated Michael. “around 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 provides a happy and enduring background rooted in food, household, and enjoyable. Michael informed you the 5th generation associated with the founding household is currently getting groomed to dominate one-day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have chosen to take on active control roles during the restaurants consequently they are prepared to keep carefully the household heritage opting for numerous years to come.

The Columbia has been known which includes of the highest honors when you look at the restaurant market, including induction into Nation’s eatery News’ “good eating Hall of Fame,” gained the “notable Restaurants of North America (SiRoNA) honor of quality,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “better of honor of quality.”

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

The Columbia Restaurant establishes a lavish table and provides a delightful getting away from everyday activity. It seduces your sensory faculties from the moment you walk in the doorways. You are surrounded by greenery, water fountains, and artwork due to the fact sounds of fun in addition to smells of fresh fish dishes waft through the air. Before my personal order actually reaches myself, my throat is obviously watering with expectation. Luckily, each guest will get his/her own recently produced loaf of Cuban bread, so I have actually one thing to satisfy my tastebuds while I wait.

The 14-page eating plan is full of good food additionally provides effortless discussion starters for daters merely observing one another. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat includes an enticing information plus fascinating history details. Such as, the bistro’s coconut ice cream was actually a favorite of ice-cream entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd child of this original Columbia creator, and after this this nice dish is actually served in his honor.

Through the veggie paella (Spanish rice combined with hearty greens) to your shrimp supreme (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the meals within Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable dishes, also known as tapas, get this to restaurant perfect for lovers on a date because you may come closer with each other by sharing tiny dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. It’s easy to make a budget-friendly meal by buying some among these appetizers together — remember to truly save room for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros might possibly be a fantastic selection for couples because they’re tactile, sweet, and just slightly messy. You’ll drop the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s something for everyone. In addition, Columbia’s trademark White Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent dessert perfect for splitting with a night out together who has got a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler weblog named the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s leading date-night places, motivating partners to “start with Columbia’s famous 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, then discuss a huge plate of the Paella a la Valenciana, full of shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo.”

Your own enchanting night will be all the greater amount of satisfying in the event that you pair along with your meal a glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a refreshing wine named after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and wife.

Plus, at Columbia eatery, the sangria will be die for. Honestly, referring from the glass you could additionally divide a pitcher of white or red sangria with a romantic date to improve the dining knowledge. Generously big pieces of fruit drift in the wine and infuse it with wealthy tastes. Whether you are buying this classic sangria or one of many cafe’s family members wines, the high-caliber drinks never disappoint.

Michael told all of us the team helps make an attempt to provide inexpensive however quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “our very own wine selection must be perfectly fitted to the food we offer as well as your cost,” the guy mentioned.

Many Couples & Families Have Shared specialized times Here

When I think of the Columbia, I think of evening we made a decision to have treat for lunch, and my personal 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 trying grouper for the first time on our twentieth birthday and saying excitedly, “simply take my photo” because he desired to show their girl (that’s now their girlfriend) he liked taking fish around she did.

In many means, the Columbia is like all of our location, but my loved ones is not the only real family members to own produced thoughts as of this restaurant as well as its six sister areas across Fl. Individuals visited the bistro anyway phases of life as it supplies a unique atmosphere that pairs really with any occasion.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had been regular visitors of the Columbia in the early 1950s. The Columbia staff paid tribute for the pair as well as the enjoying recollections they contributed in the restaurant by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin guidelines, boneless chicken, shrimp, and pork — is actually a tasty note associated with very long reputation for love in Columbia’s eating spaces.

Whether you’re going on an initial day or honoring a marriage anniversary, you’ll find intimacy and enthusiasm flourish in the soft candlelight associated with Columbia Restaurant.

“It is a goals,” Michael said, “to have individuals feel as if the Columbia is the perfect place to come quickly to celebrate existence’s milestones.”

The Columbia eatery has household standards on the Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with authentic meals, divine atmospheres, and friendly solution. The computers, no less than at our very own Columbia in Sand Key, look closely at their own visitors and tend to be fast to say “Welcome right back” to loyal clients who, like my family, find themselves returning to the stylish eating areas repeatedly.

This long-standing food institution has grown and changed in the many years, nonetheless it never forgotten their century-long household sources. Richard has actually ambitious intends to provide diners and daters throughout Florida in the many years to come. “our very own proprietor doesn’t rest,” Michael said with fun. “He’s always thinking upwards something totally new.”

The Columbia group intends to open up at the least two brand new restaurants inside upcoming years. One will end up being easily found right next door through the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to start in fall 2018, can pay honor to a tiny village in Sicily in which a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants emerged from — the real menu is designed to deliver these households a tasty indication of house.

Suffering leadership and top quality flavors make the Columbia eatery and all the sister restaurants really remarkable spots where singles and lovers can spend an evening together with those they like most readily useful.