The Quick Version: Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has actually offered Spanish and Cuban-inspired meals and beverages that represent a long-standing family history. Founded by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia continues to be a local favorite due to its conventional foods and friendly solution. Over the years, people from world-wide have come on the glamorous cafe to celebrate involvements, anniversaries, birthdays, and various other monumental moments. Nowadays, the 4th and fifth generations of family possesses and operates 13 various restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re looking for good dining with a decent old-fashioned family feel, you can reserve a table when you look at the stunning and intimate eating rooms of the Columbia Restaurant.


For the past thirty years, my loved ones’s preferred destination was an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Fl. We’ve eliminated there over several times to construct mud castles, area whales, and consume delicious meals on patios overlooking the gulf coast of florida.

We carefully discovered the town’s bistro choice, looking around from the best local joints around, however it only therefore takes place your one bistro each of us enjoy a lot of is within walking length your resort. The Columbia Restaurant’s white linen tablecloths, mindful solution, and mouth-watering food enable it to be our go-to place for supper.

When we had been kids, my personal moms and dads would get united states a mozzarella cheese pizza as they visited this passionate Spanish bistro by yourself; however, we have now enjoy tapas and wine equally as much while they perform, therefore we’ve begun crashing their particular date night — occasionally providing along times of our very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery provides wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world ambiance. Though itis the oldest bistro in Florida, the business still is run from the descendants of this initial founder. Every product regarding diet plan has an account behind it, and lots of for the meals have-been passed from one generation regarding the Hernandez Gonzmart family to another. Family members heritage is a huge an element of the Columbia’s eating plan, history, and approach to service.

«The staff normally a bit like family members,» mentioned Michael Kilgore, the principle advertising Officer the Columbia. «quite a few workers stay for 20 or 3 decades. One of several situations we like about our very own team is just how long they stick with us. They come right here and find a house.»

You can enjoy this comfy and welcoming atmosphere on the after that date night by going to any of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia eatery presently serves guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater seashore, and Celebration. Whether you’re sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or enjoying flamenco dancers light up the stage as you consume tapas, you’re guaranteed to have a remarkable night on Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can track their background back once again to Dec. 17, 1903 — exactly the same time the Wright brothers successfully tried globally’s basic plane. Which was when a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started operating a saloon for a local brewing business in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business owner switched the saloon into popular 60-seat cafe recognized for the real Cuban coffee-and snacks. Soon after his success, Casimiro purchased a cafe or restaurant next door and changed it into a gorgeous dining area. In 1930, their son got more than control and procedure for the thriving cafe.

During the Great anxiety, their child Casimiro Jr. built one air-conditioned dining area in Tampa. He hoped their upscale look and elevated party floor would draw individuals to the cafe and help all of them forget about their own fears for per night. The Don Quixote area ended up being a winner, and also the Columbia managed to hold its doors available while many various other organizations folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto his only son or daughter, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished musician who had satisfied the woman partner, Cesar Gonzmart, from the Tampa restaurant. This theatrical set introduced activity and art with the Columbia, establishing a showroom that hosted many talented Latin performers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia extended to Sarasota alongside areas in Florida.

Today, one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and kept their family’s company heading. Richard Gonzmart happens to be working at his family’s restaurants since he was 12 years of age, so they are intimately familiar with the atmosphere and record. Richard can actually suggest the table from the Columbia eatery in which he with his wife had their first go out above 43 years ago.

«there’s lots of relationship here, and now we have actually a great story,» said Michael. «not as much as 15 restaurants in the United States are family-owned and more than a century old, so we’re in pretty elite organization.»

Fl’s oldest restaurant has a proud and enduring history grounded on meals, household, and enjoyable. Michael told us the 5th generation with the founding family happens to be becoming groomed to dominate eventually. Richard’s daughters and nephew have taken on active management parts during the restaurants and are usually prepared keep consitently the family heritage going for more years to come.

The Columbia happens to be known with a few associated with the highest honours for the bistro business, including induction into Nation’s eatery Information’ «good eating Hall of Fame,» won the «Distinguished Restaurants of America (SiRoNA) Award of Excellence,» Florida Trend’s «Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,» and Wine Spectator’s «better of honor of quality.»

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

The Columbia eatery sets a magnificent dining table and an enjoyable escape from everyday activity. It seduces the senses as soon as you walk in the doors. You are surrounded by greenery, water fountains, and artwork given that noise of laughter and also the scents of new fish meals waft through air. Before my purchase also gets to me, my personal mouth is always watering with anticipation. Thank goodness, each guest gets his or her very own newly generated loaf of Cuban bread, thus I have actually something to please my taste buds while we wait.

The 14-page selection is filled with great meals and provides easy discussion beginners for daters simply learning the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat comes with an enticing information along with fascinating back ground info. As an example, the restaurant’s coconut ice cream ended up being a favorite of frozen dessert business owner Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd child regarding the initial Columbia president, now this sweet dish is actually offered in his honor.

Through the veggie paella (Spanish grain mixed with satisfying vegetables) to the shrimp great (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the foods on Columbia are bursting with flavor. The shareable plates, also known as tapas, make this restaurant suitable for partners on a night out together since you may come closer with each other by sharing tiny dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. You can generate a budget-friendly meal by ordering a number of of the appetizers with each other — remember to truly save space for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros is a fantastic option for lovers because they’re tactile, nice, and just only a little messy. You can dip the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s something for everyone. Positive, Columbia’s signature White Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent treat perfect for splitting with a night out together who’s got a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog called the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s leading date-night places, motivating lovers to «focus on Columbia’s famous 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, then discuss an enormous platter for the Paella a la Valenciana, full of shellfish, aromatic grain, and chorizo.»

The enchanting evening will be-all the greater amount of satisfying if you pair along with your meal one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a rich wine known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and girlfriend.

Plus, within Columbia Restaurant, the sangria is always to die for. Really, it comes by cup but you can also separate a pitcher of white or yellow sangria with a romantic date to increase your own dining experience. Nicely huge cuts of good fresh fruit drift in drink and infuse it with rich styles. Whether you’re ordering this traditional sangria or one of many bistro’s family wines, the high-caliber products you should never disappoint.

Michael informed all of us the group can make an endeavor to provide affordable however top quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. «All of our drink selection must be perfectly suited to the meal we serve as well as your price point,» the guy stated.

Countless Couples & households Have Shared specialized times Here

When I think of Columbia, In my opinion with the night we chose to have dessert for supper, and my moms and dads purchased churros, crucial lime pie, mango mousse meal, white candy bread dessert, and five spoons. In my opinion of my personal twin brother attempting grouper for the first time on our very own twentieth birthday and stating excitedly, «simply take my image» because he desired to show their sweetheart (who’s today their wife) which he enjoyed taking fish as much as she performed.

In so many ways, the Columbia feels as though all of our place, but my family isn’t really the sole family to possess generated recollections as of this restaurant as well as its six sister places across Florida. Individuals come to the bistro whatsoever stages of existence since it provides a unique atmosphere that pairs well with any function.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were constant guests associated with Columbia in the early 1950s. The Columbia staff members settled tribute toward few together with loving memories they provided from the cafe by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe «Salteado» — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin tips, boneless chicken, shrimp, and pork — is a tasty indication for the lengthy history of relationship into the Columbia’s eating rooms.

Whether you’re taking place an initial big date or remembering a wedding anniversary, you’ll find closeness and enthusiasm achieve the comfortable candlelight with the Columbia Restaurant.

«It’s a goals,» Michael mentioned, «to own folks feel as if the Columbia is the perfect place to come quickly to commemorate life’s goals.»

The Columbia Restaurant has Family standards to your Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with real dishes, divine atmospheres, and friendly solution. The machines, at least at our very own Columbia in Sand Key, pay attention to their unique friends and they are fast to state «Welcome straight back» to faithful customers who, like my loved ones, end up returning to the stylish dining spaces over and over again.

This long-standing food establishment provides expanded and altered for the decades, however it hasn’t ever disregarded the century-long household origins. Richard has actually ambitious intends to offer diners and daters throughout Fl from inside the a long time. «All of our manager does not rest,» Michael said with fun. «he is constantly dreaming upwards new things.»

The Columbia group intentions to open at the very least two new restaurants in coming years. One will be easily situated right next door through the original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open in fall 2018, are going to pay honor to a tiny community in Sicily in which a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants emerged from — the real diet plan will deliver these people a delicious reminder of residence.

Suffering authority and quality types improve Columbia eatery as well as its sibling restaurants truly impressive locations in which singles and partners can spend an evening in the company of those they like greatest.