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

The Quick Version: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant provides served Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and beverages that portray a long-standing genealogy. Launched by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia continues to be a local preferred simply because of its old-fashioned foods and personable service. Over time, people from all around the globe attended toward glamorous bistro to commemorate engagements, anniversaries, birthdays, also monumental minutes. These days, the last and 5th generations from the family owns and runs 13 different restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re looking for great dinner with a decent conventional family members feel, you can easily reserve a table inside the spectacular and passionate eating rooms in the Columbia eatery.


Over the past three decades, my family’s favorite vacation destination might an oceanfront resort in Sand Key, Florida. We have now gone here over 12 times to build sand castles, spot dolphins, and consume tasty dishes on patios ignoring the Gulf of Mexico.

There is completely explored the city’s cafe choice, searching out the greatest local joints around, but it merely very takes place your one bistro all of us enjoy the majority of is actually within walking length of our lodge. The Columbia Restaurant’s white linen tablecloths, mindful solution, and mouth-watering food create the go-to place for lunch.

When we were kids, my moms and dads would purchase us a cheese pizza pie as they visited this passionate Spanish bistro alone; but we now enjoy tapas and wine as much while they do, so we’ve started crashing their date night — sometimes providing along dates of our own own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has actually wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world atmosphere. Even though itis the oldest restaurant in Florida, the organization still is operated because of the descendants of original creator. Every item throughout the menu has actually a story behind it, and lots of from the recipes were transmitted from one generation regarding the Hernandez Gonzmart family members to another location. Family members custom is a huge part of the Columbia’s eating plan, record, and approach to solution.

“The staff can be a little like family,” mentioned Michael Kilgore, the principle promotional Officer when it comes to Columbia. “Many of our workers stay for 20 or 30 years. Among the many circumstances we like about our very own team is how much time they stick with us. They show up here and find a house.”

You may enjoy this comfy and welcoming atmosphere on the subsequent night out when you go to any of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia eatery at this time acts visitors in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and party. Whether you are sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or watching flamenco performers illuminate the level while you take in tapas, you are guaranteed to have a remarkable night at Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can locate their background returning to Dec. 17, 1903 — the same time the Wright brothers successfully tried the world’s first aircraft. Which was whenever a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started operating a saloon for an area brewing company in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business owner switched the saloon into a favorite 60-seat cafe recognized for the genuine Cuban coffee and snacks. Soon after his success, Casimiro purchased a restaurant next door and converted it into a gorgeous kitchen. In 1930, their child got more than control and operation on the flourishing bistro.

Throughout the Great anxiety, their child Casimiro Jr. created initial air-conditioned dining room in Tampa. The guy hoped its trendy look and elevated dancing flooring would draw men and women to the restaurant that assist them forget about their fears for per night. The Don Quixote Room ended up being popular, therefore the Columbia could hold their doors open while many different businesses collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto his sole kid, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished artist that has fulfilled the woman spouse, Cesar Gonzmart, during the Tampa restaurant. This theatrical pair delivered enjoyment and art towards the Columbia, developing a showroom that managed numerous talented Latin performers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s authority, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota as well as other areas in Florida.

These days, one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has had the reins and kept their family members’ company going. Richard Gonzmart is working at their family members’ restaurants since he was 12 years old, very he is closely acquainted with its atmosphere and history. Richard can actually point to the dining table in the Columbia Restaurant in which the guy with his partner had their unique basic big date above 43 in years past.

“There’s a lot of love here, therefore we have the tale,” stated Michael. “under 15 restaurants in the us are family-owned and more than a century old, so we’re in pretty elite company.”

Florida’s earliest restaurant has actually a happy and enduring record rooted in food, family members, and enjoyable. Michael informed united states the 5th generation on the founding family members happens to be getting groomed to dominate someday. Richard’s daughters and nephew have taken on productive administration parts at restaurants and generally are willing to keep consitently the household tradition going for many others many years to come.

The Columbia might acknowledged with some of this greatest honors when you look at the cafe market, including induction into country’s eatery News’ “Fine food Hall of popularity,” obtained the “notable Restaurants of America (SiRoNA) honor of quality,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “Best of honor of quality.”

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

The Columbia Restaurant establishes a magnificent table and provides an enjoyable escape from daily life. It seduces your own senses from the moment you walk in the doorways. You’re enclosed by greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork given that sounds of fun and odors of fresh seafood dishes waft through the air. Before my purchase even reaches me, my personal throat is definitely watering with expectation. The good news is, each guest gets his/her own newly produced loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, therefore I have something you should please my personal preferences while I wait.

The 14-page diet plan is full of great food but in addition provides effortless conversation starters for daters only learning one another. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat boasts an enticing explanation in addition to interesting history details. As an example, the bistro’s coconut ice cream had been a popular of ice cream business owner Gustavo Hernandez, the next boy of this initial Columbia founder, and today this sweet dish is actually offered in his respect.

From the veggie paella (Spanish rice blended with hearty greens) into the shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the meals on Columbia tend to be bursting with flavor. The shareable dishes, known as tapas, get this restaurant ideal for couples on a date because you may come better collectively by discussing small dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. You can create a budget-friendly meal by purchasing a couple of of those appetizers together — keep in mind to save lots of area for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros might be a great option for lovers because they’re tactile, sweet, and simply a tiny bit dirty. You can easily dip the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s a little something for everyone. Plus, Columbia’s signature light Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent dessert perfect for splitting with a romantic date having a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler weblog known as the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s top date-night places, motivating couples to “start off with Columbia’s well-known 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, and discuss a huge platter in the Paella a la Valenciana, filled with shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo.”

Your own intimate night will be-all the greater amount of satisfying in the event that you pair along with your dinner one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, an abundant drink called after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and spouse.

Plus, at the Columbia Restaurant, the sangria should perish for. Really, it comes because of the cup you could in addition separate a pitcher of white or red sangria with a night out together to boost your food experience. Nicely huge slices of fresh fruit float during the wine and infuse it with rich tastes. Whether you are purchasing this classic sangria or one of many restaurant’s family members wines, the high-caliber products cannot disappoint.

Michael told us the team helps make an attempt available inexpensive yet high quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “our very own wine selection is perfectly suited for the meal we serve and your price point,” he mentioned.

Countless partners & groups Have Shared specialized Moments Here

When i believe regarding the Columbia, i believe of the evening we decided to have dessert for lunch, and my personal parents ordered churros, important lime pie, mango mousse cake, white chocolate breads dessert, and five spoons. I do believe of my twin-brother attempting grouper for the first time on the twentieth birthday and claiming excitedly, “Take my personal image” because he planned to program their sweetheart (that is today his spouse) which he loved taking fish approximately she performed.

In so many methods, the Columbia feels as though our spot, but my family isn’t the sole family members for produced recollections during this cafe as well as its six sister areas across Fl. Individuals arrived at the restaurant anyway phases of life as it supplies an unique atmosphere that pairs really with any gathering.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be repeated visitors of this Columbia in early 1950s. The Columbia staff paid tribute towards couple together with enjoying memories they contributed at the bistro by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed blend of tenderloin recommendations, boneless chicken white meat, shrimp, and pork — is actually a delicious reminder associated with very long reputation for romance for the Columbia’s eating spaces.

Whether you are happening a first go out or celebrating a wedding anniversary, you’ll find closeness and love flourish in the smooth candlelight of Columbia eatery.

“It’s one of the objectives,” Michael said, “getting men and women feel as if the Columbia is where to get to commemorate existence’s milestones.”

The Columbia eatery Brings household standards to your Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with real meals, divine atmospheres, and personable service. The machines, at least at all of our Columbia in Sand Key, pay attention to their unique visitors and are also quick to state “Welcome right back” to faithful consumers whom, like my children, end up returning to the classy eating areas time and time again.

This long-standing dining establishment provides grown and changed throughout the many years, but it never disregarded its century-long family origins. Richard has actually challenging intends to serve diners and daters throughout Florida in the years to come. “our very own manager doesn’t sleep,” Michael stated with fun. “He’s always thinking right up something totally new.”

The Columbia group intends to open at least two brand-new restaurants inside the impending many years. One will end up being conveniently positioned right across the street through the original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to start in autumn 2018, are going to pay honor to a little community in Sicily where a majority of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants emerged from — the genuine selection will deliver these family members a delicious reminder of home.

Suffering authority and quality flavors make the Columbia eatery and all of their sis restaurants genuinely great locations where singles and lovers can spend an evening in the company of those they like finest.

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