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The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Fl’s Oldest Eatery Produces a Beautiful Background To Suit Your Romantic Minutes

The Quick type: Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has actually served Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and products that express a long-standing genealogy and family history. Started by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains a regional favorite due to its conventional ingredients and personable service. Over time, people from all over the globe have come on attractive cafe to celebrate involvements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and other monumental minutes. These days, the last and 5th generations with the family has and works 13 various restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re looking for great food with a decent conventional household sense, you can easily reserve a table within the spectacular and intimate dining spaces from the Columbia Restaurant.


Over the past thirty years, my family’s favored destination was an oceanfront hotel in Sand Key, Florida. We have now eliminated here over 12 instances to create mud castles, place whales, and eat delicious dinners on patios overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

We’ve completely discovered the city’s bistro option, looking from the most useful neighborhood bones around, but it only very happens your one restaurant we all enjoy most is actually within strolling distance your hotel. The Columbia eatery’s white-linen tablecloths, mindful service, and mouth-watering meals allow it to be the go-to spot for dinner.

Once we happened to be young ones, my moms and dads would purchase us a mozzarella cheese pizza as they visited this intimate Spanish restaurant by yourself; but we now enjoy tapas and wine as much because they carry out, therefore we’ve started crashing their date night — sometimes taking along times your own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has actually wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world ambiance. Though it’s the earliest bistro in Fl, business is still run by the descendants associated with the original founder. Every item throughout the eating plan features a tale behind it, and lots of with the meals have-been handed over from one generation with the Hernandez Gonzmart family members to the next. Household tradition is a large part of the Columbia’s diet plan, history, and way of solution.

“The staff normally somewhat like family members,” said Michael Kilgore, the main promotional Officer when it comes to Columbia. “Many of our employees remain for 20 or 3 decades. One of the circumstances we like about our very own team is actually how much time they stick with you. They arrive here in order to find property.”

You may enjoy this comfy and inviting environment on your subsequent night out by going to any one of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant at this time serves friends in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater seashore, and Celebration. Whether you’re sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or watching flamenco performers light the period while you consume tapas, you’re sure to have an unforgettable evening on Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can trace its record back to Dec. 17, 1903 — similar day the Wright brothers effectively tested the entire world’s basic plane. That was when a Cuban immigrant called Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began operating a saloon for an area preparing organization in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person turned the saloon into popular 60-seat cafe noted for their real Cuban coffee and sandwiches. Soon after his success, Casimiro ordered a cafe or restaurant next-door and converted it into a striking kitchen. In 1930, their boy took more than ownership and process on the flourishing cafe.

Throughout Great anxiety, his boy Casimiro Jr. created 1st air-conditioned kitchen in Tampa. The guy hoped their trendy look and elevated dance floor would draw visitors to the cafe that assist all of them forget about their particular fears for per night. The Don Quixote Room was actually a hit, plus the Columbia managed to hold its doorways available while many different companies folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto his sole youngster, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished artist who had met the bisexual woman dating partner, Cesar Gonzmart, within Tampa cafe. This theatrical set introduced activity and art on the Columbia, setting up a showroom that managed lots of talented Latin performers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s authority, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota also locations in Florida.

These days, among Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and kept his family members’ business going. Richard Gonzmart has been operating at their family members’ restaurants since he had been 12 years of age, so he’s intimately familiar with the atmosphere and background. Richard can point out the table during the Columbia Restaurant in which he along with his wife had their unique very first time over 43 years back.

“there are many relationship right here, therefore have a good tale,” said Michael. “not as much as 15 restaurants in america tend to be family-owned and most a century old, therefore we’re in pretty elite business.”

Fl’s oldest restaurant has a pleased and enduring history rooted in meals, household, and enjoyable. Michael informed us the fifth generation for the founding household happens to be becoming groomed to dominate one day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have taken on active control roles in the restaurants and are also prepared to keep the household tradition choosing numerous years to come.

The Columbia happens to be known with some from the greatest prizes when you look at the restaurant market, including induction into Nation’s Restaurant News’ “good food Hall of Fame,” gained the “Distinguished Restaurants of North America (SiRoNA) Award of Excellence,” Florida 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 eatery establishes a magnificent table and gives a wonderful getting away from everyday activity. It seduces your senses from the moment you walk-in the doors. You’re surrounded by greenery, water fountains, and artwork because the noises of fun and also the scents of new fish and shellfish meals waft through atmosphere. Before my purchase also extends to me, my mouth area is obviously watering with anticipation. Luckily, each visitor becomes their very own recently produced loaf of Cuban breads, so I have something you should fulfill my tastebuds while I wait.

The 14-page selection is filled with good food but also provides effortless conversation beginners for daters merely observing one another. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat boasts an enticing description along with interesting history information. As an example, the bistro’s coconut ice cream ended up being a well liked of frozen dessert entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the next son regarding the original Columbia creator, now this nice meal is supported within his honor.

From veggie paella (Spanish rice blended with satisfying veggies) with the shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foods on Columbia are bursting with taste. The shareable plates, also known as tapas, get this restaurant well suited for lovers on a night out together as you can come better together by discussing little dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. It is possible to create a budget-friendly meal by purchasing certain of the appetizers collectively — remember to save lots of room for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros could be an excellent selection for partners since they are tactile, sweet, and just only a little dirty. You’ll dip the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s a little something for everybody. Plus, Columbia’s signature White Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent treat ideal for splitting with a romantic date who has a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site named the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night spots, promoting couples to “begin with Columbia’s well-known 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, after which share a massive plate of Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, fragrant grain, and chorizo.”

Your own romantic night will be-all the greater enjoyable should you pair along with your meal one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a wealthy wine known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and partner.

Plus, on Columbia Restaurant, the sangria would be to perish for. Seriously, it comes down from the cup you could additionally split a pitcher of white or purple sangria with a night out together to increase the dinner experience. Amply big pieces of fresh fruit float inside drink and infuse it with rich styles. Whether you are ordering this traditional sangria or one of several restaurant’s household wines, the high-caliber drinks try not to let you down.

Michael informed you the team can make an endeavor to supply affordable yet top quality wines to whet guests’ appetites. “Our drink selection is completely suited to the foodstuff we provide and your price point,” the guy stated.

Countless partners & households have actually Shared specialized times Here

When i believe for the Columbia, i do believe associated with the evening we decided to have dessert for supper, and my moms and dads ordered churros, essential lime pie, mango mousse meal, white candy breads dessert, and five spoons. I do believe of my personal twin-brother trying grouper for the first time on our twentieth birthday and saying excitedly, “just take my personal picture” because he desired to program his sweetheart (who’s today his wife) he loved eating fish whenever she performed.

In many ways, the Columbia feels like all of our spot, but my loved ones is not truly the only family members for generated thoughts during that restaurant and its six sister locations across Fl. Folks arrive at the restaurant whatsoever phases of life because it provides a special atmosphere that pairs well with any function.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were frequent visitors of this Columbia in early 1950s. The Columbia employees settled tribute for the couple plus the loving thoughts they contributed during the restaurant by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin tips, boneless chicken white meat, shrimp, and pork — is actually a tasty indication on the very long reputation for romance when you look at the Columbia’s eating areas.

Whether you are going on a primary big date or honoring a marriage anniversary, you will discover intimacy and passion flourish in the gentle candlelight regarding the Columbia Restaurant.

“It is one of the targets,” Michael mentioned, “getting individuals feel like the Columbia is the place to come to celebrate existence’s milestones.”

The Columbia Restaurant has group Values towards Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with real dishes, divine atmospheres, and personable service. The hosts, at the very least at all of our Columbia in Sand Key, pay attention to their unique friends and generally are fast to say “Welcome right back” to faithful consumers whom, like my loved ones, end up returning to the classy eating areas over and over again.

This long-standing dining place has grown and changed in the years, nonetheless it hasn’t ever disregarded their century-long family members roots. Richard features challenging intentions to offer diners and daters throughout Florida into the a long time. “the holder does not rest,” Michael mentioned with fun. “he is constantly fantasizing up something totally new.”

The Columbia group plans to open no less than two brand-new restaurants during the upcoming many years. One will be conveniently situated right down the street through the original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to start in autumn 2018, will pay homage to a small village in Sicily where a majority of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants emerged from — the real menu will bring these individuals a tasty note of house.

Enduring management and high quality tastes make the Columbia Restaurant as well as their aunt restaurants certainly remarkable places where singles and couples can spend an evening with those they love best.