The Quick Version: Since 1905, the Columbia eatery provides served Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and products that portray a long-standing genealogy and family history. Established by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains an area preferred simply because of its standard meals and personable service. Through the years, people from all over the world came on the attractive cafe to celebrate involvements, anniversaries, birthdays, and other monumental minutes. Nowadays, the fourth and 5th generations regarding the family members is the owner of and functions 13 various restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re looking for okay eating with a good traditional family members experience, you can reserve a table inside stunning and enchanting food spaces associated with Columbia Restaurant.


Over the past 30 years, my loved ones’s favored holiday destination has been an oceanfront resort in Sand Key, Florida. We have now gone here over 12 times to construct mud castles, spot dolphins, and eat tasty dishes on patios ignoring the Gulf of Mexico.

There is thoroughly investigated the town’s restaurant selection, searching out the most readily useful local joints about, but it simply therefore takes place that one cafe everyone enjoy the majority of is actually within taking walks distance in our lodge. The Columbia Restaurant’s white linen tablecloths, conscious service, and mouth-watering meals ensure it is all of our go-to area for lunch.

When we happened to be children, my moms and dads would purchase us a mozzarella cheese pizza pie even though they went to this romantic Spanish restaurant by yourself; however, we currently enjoy tapas and wine just as much while they carry out, therefore we’ve started crashing their date night — sometimes providing along times of one’s own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world atmosphere. Although it’s the oldest restaurant in Fl, the business remains operate of the descendants of this initial founder. Every product from the selection provides an account behind it, and many associated with the recipes being passed from one generation with the Hernandez Gonzmart family to another location. Household tradition is a huge area of the Columbia’s eating plan, record, and method to solution.

«the employees normally a bit like family members,» said Michael Kilgore, the main advertising Officer for all the Columbia. «a number of our staff stay for 20 or three decades. The situations we love about all of our group is actually just how long they stay with all of us. They arrive right here and locate property.»

You can enjoy this comfortable and inviting atmosphere on your then night out when you go to any of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant at this time serves guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater seashore, and party. Whether you’re drinking wine on a picturesque balcony or viewing flamenco performers illuminate the stage even though you consume tapas, you’re sure to have a remarkable evening from the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can locate the background back once again to Dec. 17, 1903 — exactly the same time the Wright brothers effectively tested the planet’s first plane. That was whenever a Cuban immigrant called Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started working a saloon for a regional brewing company in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious entrepreneur switched the saloon into popular 60-seat cafe known for its genuine Cuban coffee-and snacks. Following their success, Casimiro ordered a cafe or restaurant next-door and switched it into a gorgeous living area. In 1930, their son took more than possession and process with the thriving bistro.

Through the Great Depression, their son Casimiro Jr. built one air-conditioned dining area in Tampa. He hoped its upscale appearance and raised party floor would draw individuals the bistro that assist all of them forget about their unique fears for every night. The Don Quixote area had been a winner, plus the Columbia managed to keep its doors open while many different organizations collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto their sole son or daughter, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an established artist that has satisfied the woman husband, Cesar Gonzmart, during the Tampa cafe. This theatrical pair introduced enjoyment and artistry toward Columbia, developing a showroom that managed a lot of talented Latin dancers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s authority, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota and other places in Fl.

Now, one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has had the reins and kept their family’s business heading. Richard Gonzmart is operating at their family’s restaurants since he had been 12 years of age, very he’s intimately familiar with their environment and history. Richard can indicate the table from the Columbia eatery where the guy and his awesome wife had their own first time over 43 years ago.

«there are many love here, so we have actually an excellent tale,» stated Michael. «under 15 restaurants in the usa tend to be family-owned and most 100 years outdated, therefore we’re in pretty elite organization.»

Florida’s oldest restaurant features a proud and enduring record grounded on food, family members, and fun. Michael told you the 5th generation on the founding household is currently getting groomed to take control someday. Richard’s daughters and nephew have taken on effective control roles within restaurants and are also prepared keep your family members practice opting for more a long time.

The Columbia has become acknowledged with some associated with highest awards within the cafe industry, such as induction into Nation’s Restaurant News’ «Fine food Hall of Fame,» won the «notable Restaurants of the united states (SiRoNA) honor of quality,» Fl 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 dining table and offers an enjoyable escape from daily life. It seduces your sensory faculties as soon as you walk in the doorways. You are enclosed by greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork as noises of fun together with scents of new seafood meals waft through the air. Before my purchase also gets to myself, my personal mouth area is always watering with anticipation. Thank goodness, each visitor will get his/her own freshly made loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, thus I have actually one thing to please my personal taste buds while we wait.

The 14-page diet plan is filled with good food additionally provides simple discussion starters for daters merely observing each other. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat has an enticing description along with fascinating background info. By way of example, the restaurant’s coconut frozen dessert was a preferred of ice-cream business owner Gustavo Hernandez, the third son in the initial Columbia creator, and after this this nice dish is actually offered in the honor.

From the veggie paella (Spanish rice mixed with hearty veggies) towards shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foodstuffs during the Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable plates, called tapas, get this restaurant suitable for partners on a romantic date since you can come better collectively by revealing small plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. To make a budget-friendly meal by purchasing a couple of of the appetizers with each other — remember to save area for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros could be an outstanding choice for lovers since they are tactile, sweet, and merely only a little messy. You’ll dip the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s something for everybody. Additionally, Columbia’s trademark light Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent dessert perfect for splitting with a date that has a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog known as the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s leading date-night places, encouraging lovers to «start with Columbia’s famous 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, and share a massive platter from the Paella a la Valenciana, full of shellfish, fragrant grain, and chorizo.»

Your own passionate evening will be-all the more enjoyable should you pair with your dinner one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, an abundant drink called after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and spouse.

Plus, from the Columbia eatery, the sangria is perish for. Really, referring because of the glass but you can also separate a pitcher of white or red sangria with a romantic date to boost the dining experience. Nicely huge slices of fresh fruit float within the drink and infuse it with rich flavors. Whether you are ordering this classic sangria or among the restaurant’s family members wines, the high-caliber products cannot let you down.

Michael informed all of us the group tends to make an endeavor to supply inexpensive yet high quality wines to whet guests’ appetites. «All of our drink choice must perfectly designed for the meals we provide and your cost,» he mentioned.

Many partners & households Have Shared particular times Here

When In my opinion for the Columbia, i believe with the evening we decided to have dessert for lunch, and my parents ordered churros, key lime pie, mango mousse dessert, white candy bread dessert, and five spoons. I think of my twin-brother trying grouper the very first time on the 20th birthday celebration and claiming excitedly, «get my personal photo» because the guy planned to show his girl (that’s now his spouse) he loved taking in fish approximately she performed.

In plenty means, the Columbia feels like all of our destination, but my loved ones isn’t the actual only real family members having generated memories only at that cafe and its own six sister places across Florida. Folks started to the cafe at all phases of existence since it provides a unique environment that sets really with any function.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be frequent guests of Columbia in the early 1950s. The Columbia employees settled tribute on the few plus the loving recollections they shared at bistro by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe «Salteado» — a sautéed blend of tenderloin recommendations, boneless chicken breast, shrimp, and chicken — is a delicious note of the very long reputation of love for the Columbia’s eating areas.

Whether you’re happening a first big date or celebrating a wedding anniversary, you will find closeness and love achieve the smooth candlelight from the Columbia eatery.

«It’s our targets,» Michael mentioned, «to own individuals feel like the Columbia is where to come to commemorate life’s milestones.»

The Columbia Restaurant Brings group Values with the Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with authentic meals, divine atmospheres, and friendly solution. The servers, no less than at our Columbia in Sand Key, watch their unique visitors and tend to be fast to express «Welcome right back» to loyal consumers whom, like my children, find themselves time for the classy eating rooms time and again.

This long-standing eating establishment has grown and changed through the entire many years, nonetheless it hasn’t ever disregarded their century-long household roots. Richard features challenging intentions to offer diners and daters throughout Florida for the years into the future. «our very own manager does not rest,» Michael mentioned with a laugh. «he is constantly dreaming right up something totally new.»

The Columbia team intends to open at least two brand new restaurants in impending many years. One will end up being conveniently found correct down the street from initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to open in autumn 2018, will pay respect to a small town in Sicily where a majority of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants emerged from — the real selection aims to deliver these family members a tasty note of house.

Enduring authority and top quality styles improve Columbia Restaurant as well as its sibling restaurants truly impressive locations where singles and partners can invest a night with those they love most useful.