The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Florida’s Oldest Eatery Produces an attractive Backdrop To Suit Your Intimate Moments

The small variation: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant features served Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and drinks that express a long-standing genealogy and family history. Created by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia continues to be a regional favorite due to its old-fashioned foods and personable solution. Through the years, folks from all around the globe attended towards attractive bistro to commemorate engagements, anniversaries, birthdays, as well as other monumental times. Today, the last and 5th years of family members has and works 13 various restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re searching for fine dining with a good traditional family experience, you can easily reserve a table in the stunning and enchanting food spaces of the Columbia eatery.


Over the past thirty years, my children’s favored holiday destination has-been an oceanfront hotel in Sand Key, Florida. We have gone there over several times to create sand castles, place whales, and eat tasty dinners on patios ignoring the gulf coast of florida.

We now have thoroughly discovered the city’s bistro variety, searching out the most readily useful neighborhood joints around, nevertheless simply thus happens that one bistro we-all enjoy a lot of is actually within taking walks length of one’s hotel. The Columbia eatery’s white linen tablecloths, attentive service, and mouth-watering meals allow it to be our very own go-to place for lunch.

As soon as we had been children, my personal moms and dads would order you a mozzarella cheese pizza even though they checked out this enchanting Spanish bistro by yourself; however, we have now enjoy tapas and drink just as much because they would, therefore we’ve started crashing their unique date night — often providing along times of our very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant features wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world atmosphere. Although it’s the earliest bistro in Fl, business still is operated from the descendants associated with initial founder. Every object regarding the eating plan provides a tale behind it, and lots of associated with the dishes are handed over from one generation in the Hernandez Gonzmart family members to a higher. Household tradition is a huge the main Columbia’s menu, history, and approach to solution.

“The staff can also be slightly like family members,” stated Michael Kilgore, the main promotional Officer the Columbia. “Many of our staff stay for 20 or thirty years. One of the things we love about our very own team is how long they stay with united states. They come here and discover property.”

You may enjoy this comfy and inviting atmosphere on your own then date night when you go to any of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant currently serves guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater seashore, and party. Whether you’re sipping wine on a picturesque balcony or viewing flamenco dancers illuminate the stage as you take in tapas, you are certain to have an unforgettable evening on Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can trace the history returning to Dec. 17, 1903 — alike day the Wright brothers successfully tested globally’s basic aircraft. That was when a Cuban immigrant known as Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began running a saloon for a local brewing company in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person turned the saloon into a favorite 60-seat cafe known for their genuine Cuban coffee-and snacks. Soon after their achievements, Casimiro ordered a cafe or restaurant next-door and switched it into an attractive dining room. In 1930, his child took over control and process with the thriving bistro.

During Great anxiety, his boy Casimiro Jr. created the very first air-conditioned kitchen in Tampa. He hoped their upscale look and elevated party floor would draw individuals to the cafe that assist all of them forget their own fears for per night. The Don Quixote area had been a hit, while the Columbia surely could hold their doorways available although various other organizations collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia on to their sole kid, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished artist who had met her partner, Cesar Gonzmart, during the Tampa bistro. This theatrical pair introduced activity and art on the Columbia, setting up a showroom that hosted a lot of skilled Latin performers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia extended to Sarasota and other places in Fl.

These days, certainly Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and held his family members’ company heading. Richard Gonzmart happens to be functioning at his family members’ restaurants since he was 12 yrs old, therefore he or she is closely acquainted with their environment and history. Richard can actually point out the dining table within Columbia Restaurant where the guy and his spouse had their very first go out over 43 years ago.

“there are many relationship here, and now we have actually an excellent tale,” mentioned Michael. “significantly less than 15 restaurants in the us are family-owned and more than a century outdated, so we’re in pretty elite company.”

Fl’s oldest cafe has actually a proud and enduring record rooted in food, household, and fun. Michael informed us the fifth generation with the founding family members happens to be being groomed to take-over one day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have taken on effective management functions on restaurants and they are prepared to keep consitently the family custom choosing many more years into the future.

The Columbia has become recognized with of the highest awards inside cafe sector, including induction into Nation’s Restaurant News’ “Fine eating Hall of Fame,” attained the “Distinguished Restaurants of America (SiRoNA) Award of quality,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “Best of honor of quality.”

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

The Columbia eatery establishes a lavish table and a wonderful escape from everyday life. It seduces your own senses from the moment you walk in the doorways. You are enclosed by greenery, drinking water fountains, and artwork just like the noises of fun plus the odors of fresh fish meals waft through the environment. Before my personal order actually gets to myself, my mouth area is always watering with anticipation. Fortunately, each guest becomes his or her very own newly made loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, so I have actually something you should please my personal taste buds while I wait.

The 14-page eating plan is full of great food additionally supplies simple discussion beginners for daters simply observing the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat has an enticing information plus interesting back ground details. As an instance, the bistro’s coconut ice-cream had been a popular of ice-cream entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd child of the original Columbia creator, and today this nice plate is actually served in the respect.

From veggie paella (Spanish grain combined with satisfying vegetables) towards shrimp supreme (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the foodstuffs from the Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable plates, known as tapas, get this restaurant ideal for partners on a date since you will come better with each other by sharing tiny dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. You can generate a budget-friendly meal by buying several of the appetizers collectively — keep in mind to save space for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros would be an outstanding selection for lovers because they’re tactile, sweet, and just a tiny bit messy. It is possible to drop the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s something for everyone. Plus, Columbia’s signature light Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent dessert excellent for splitting with a romantic date who has a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog named the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s top date-night areas, promoting partners to “begin with Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, then discuss a massive plate in the Paella a la Valenciana, filled with shellfish, aromatic grain, and chorizo.”

The enchanting night will be all the greater amount of pleasurable should you decide pair along with your meal one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, a rich drink called after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and spouse.

Plus, during the Columbia eatery, the sangria would be to perish for. Seriously, it comes from the cup you could additionally split a pitcher of white or red-colored sangria with a date to increase your own eating experience. Generously huge cuts of fruit float in wine and infuse it with rich styles. Whether you are purchasing this classic sangria or the restaurant’s household wines, the high-caliber beverages don’t let you down.

Michael informed united states the team helps make an effort to supply inexpensive but quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “our very own wine option ought to be perfectly fitted to the food we offer and your selling price,” he stated.

Many partners & groups Have Shared particular Moments Here

When i believe of the Columbia, I think associated with night we chose to have treat for dinner, and my personal parents purchased churros, crucial lime pie, mango mousse meal, white candy bread dessert, and five spoons. I believe of my personal twin brother trying grouper the very first time on our very own twentieth birthday celebration and stating excitedly, “get my picture” because he wanted to reveal his girl (that’s today his girlfriend) that he loved taking in fish approximately she performed.

In countless means, the Columbia is like our location, but my family actually the only real family having made recollections during this bistro as well as its six sister locations across Fl. Folks visited the bistro whatsoever phases of life since it supplies a particular atmosphere that pairs really with any gathering.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be frequent friends with the Columbia during the early 1950s. The Columbia personnel paid tribute into the couple together with enjoying thoughts they shared on bistro by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed combination of tenderloin ideas, boneless chicken, shrimp, and chicken — is a delicious indication regarding the long reputation for romance when you look at the Columbia’s dining spaces.

Whether you’re taking place a primary big date or honoring a wedding anniversary, you’ll find closeness and enthusiasm achieve the smooth candlelight associated with the Columbia Restaurant.

“It is one of our goals,” Michael mentioned, “to have people feel as if the Columbia is where to come to celebrate existence’s milestones.”

The Columbia Restaurant has Family standards on Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with real dishes, divine atmospheres, and friendly service. The servers, at the least at all of our Columbia in Sand Key, focus on their visitors consequently they are fast to state “Welcome straight back” to faithful clients exactly who, like my children, end up going back to the stylish dining spaces over and over repeatedly.

This long-standing eating business features expanded and changed throughout the decades, nonetheless it never disregarded their century-long household origins. Richard has actually challenging plans to offer diners and daters throughout Fl in the many years to come. “Our manager doesn’t rest,” Michael stated with fun. “He’s usually fantasizing right up something totally new.”

The Columbia staff intends to open no less than two brand new restaurants during the upcoming decades. One will be easily located appropriate down the street from the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open in fall 2018, can pay homage to a tiny town in Sicily where a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the real selection is designed to bring these individuals a delicious reminder of home.

Enduring management and quality tastes result in the Columbia eatery as well as its sis restaurants truly amazing spots where singles and couples can invest an evening together with those they like finest.

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