The Quick variation: Since 1905, the Columbia eatery provides offered Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and drinks that portray a long-standing family history. Established by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains a local favored due to its conventional meals and personable solution. Over time, folks from all over the globe came towards the glamorous cafe to celebrate involvements, anniversaries, birthdays, and various other monumental minutes. These days, the next and 5th years from the household owns and functions 13 various restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re looking for fine dinner with a decent conventional family experience, you’ll be able to reserve a table during the stunning and intimate dinner areas on the Columbia Restaurant.


Over the past three decades, my family’s preferred destination was an oceanfront hotel in Sand Key, Florida. We’ve gone there over several occasions to build mud castles, area whales, and consume tasty meals on patios ignoring the Gulf of Mexico.

There is thoroughly explored the town’s cafe selection, looking around the actual greatest neighborhood bones about, however it merely therefore takes place your one restaurant each of us enjoy most is within walking range of our resort. The Columbia Restaurant’s white linen tablecloths, mindful service, and mouth-watering meals allow our very own go-to place for supper.

Whenever we were kids, my parents would purchase all of us a cheese pizza pie as they went to this passionate Spanish cafe by yourself; however, we now enjoy tapas and drink as much because they do, therefore we’ve started crashing their own date night — often bringing along dates of our own very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world atmosphere. Though itis the earliest restaurant in Fl, the company still is operated by descendants associated with original founder. Every object regarding the selection has a story behind it, and lots of on the dishes being handed over from one generation in the Hernandez Gonzmart family to a higher. Family members custom is a large an element of the Columbia’s diet plan, history, and approach to service.

“The staff can a bit like family members,” stated Michael Kilgore, the principle Marketing Officer when it comes to Columbia. “quite a few workers stay for 20 or 30 years. Among the circumstances we love about our very own party is actually just how long they stick with united states. They show up right here and discover a house.”

You can enjoy this comfy and welcoming environment in your after that date night by visiting any of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia eatery presently serves friends in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater seashore, and Celebration. Whether you are drinking wine on a picturesque balcony or watching flamenco performers light up the period when you take in tapas, you’re sure to have an unforgettable evening during the Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can locate its history to Dec. 17, 1903 — exactly the same time the Wright brothers effectively tried the planet’s basic airplane. That has been whenever a Cuban immigrant called Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began running a saloon for an area brewing business in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious entrepreneur turned the saloon into a favorite 60-seat cafe recognized for their genuine Cuban coffee-and sandwiches. Following his success, Casimiro ordered a cafe or restaurant next-door and switched it into an attractive dining room. In 1930, their child took over possession and operation associated with the flourishing bistro.

Throughout Great anxiety, his boy Casimiro Jr. built one air-conditioned dining room in Tampa. The guy hoped the upscale appearance and elevated party floor would draw people to the cafe and help all of them forget about their particular concerns for every night. The Don Quixote place had been a success, therefore the Columbia was able to keep the doors open even though many additional businesses collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto his only son or daughter, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an established musician who’d came across the woman spouse, Cesar Gonzmart, in the Tampa restaurant. This theatrical set brought entertainment and artistry with the Columbia, developing a showroom that hosted numerous skilled Latin performers and musicians. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota as well as other places in Florida.

These days, certainly one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has brought the reins and kept their family members’ company heading. Richard Gonzmart has become operating at his family members’ restaurants since he had been 12 years of age, so they are closely acquainted with its environment and record. Richard can point to the dining table from the Columbia eatery where the guy and his partner had their own basic go out more than 43 in years past.

“There’s a lot of romance right here, therefore have actually outstanding story,” mentioned Michael. “below 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 a happy and enduring background grounded on meals, family members, and fun. Michael told united states the 5th generation associated with founding family members is now getting groomed to take over one-day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have chosen to take in effective control roles from the restaurants and so are prepared keep consitently the family heritage going for numerous a long time.

The Columbia happens to be recognized with from the highest honours during the cafe sector, including induction into country’s Restaurant News’ “okay eating Hall of Fame,” gained the “Distinguished Restaurants of united states (SiRoNA) honor of quality,” Florida Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and Wine Spectator’s “good Award of Excellence.”

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

The Columbia eatery establishes a lavish dining table and gives a delightful getting away from everyday activity. It seduces your own sensory faculties as soon as you walk-in the doors. You are in the middle of greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork while the noise of laughter in addition to scents of new seafood meals waft through environment. Before my order even reaches me personally, my throat is obviously watering with expectation. Thank goodness, each guest gets his or her very own newly produced loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, therefore I have actually something you should satisfy my preferences while I wait.

The 14-page diet plan is full of good meals and supplies easy discussion beginners for daters simply learning the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert is sold with an enticing information and additionally interesting background details. Including, the bistro’s coconut ice cream was actually a well liked of frozen dessert business owner Gustavo Hernandez, the next child regarding the original Columbia president, now this sweet meal is actually served in the respect.

Through the vegetarian paella (Spanish rice mixed with hearty vegetables) to your shrimp supreme (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the foodstuffs during the Columbia tend to be bursting with flavor. The shareable plates, known as tapas, make this bistro ideal for couples on a date because you will come closer together by revealing small plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. It’s easy to make a budget-friendly dinner by ordering multiple of the appetizers with each other — remember to truly save place for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros might be an outstanding option for couples because they’re tactile, sweet, and just a little dirty. You can easily dip the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s a little for all. In addition, Columbia’s signature White Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent dessert perfect for splitting with a date who may have a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler weblog called the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s top date-night spots, promoting couples to “start with Columbia’s famous 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, after which share an enormous platter of Paella a la Valenciana, filled with shellfish, fragrant grain, and chorizo.”

The romantic night will be-all the greater amount of satisfying should you pair together with your meal one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, an abundant wine known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and girlfriend.

Plus, on Columbia Restaurant, the sangria will be perish for. Seriously, referring because of the glass but you can additionally separate a pitcher of white or reddish sangria with a romantic date to boost your own dinner knowledge. Generously huge cuts of good fresh fruit drift inside wine and infuse it with rich styles. Whether you’re purchasing this traditional sangria or one of the restaurant’s family wines, the high-caliber drinks usually do not disappoint.

Michael informed united states the group helps make an effort to offer inexpensive but high quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “All of our drink variety must completely suited for the meals we provide as well as your selling price,” the guy said.

Countless partners & Families Have Shared specialized times Here

When I think regarding the Columbia, I think associated with evening we made a decision to have treat for lunch, and my personal parents ordered churros, important lime pie, mango mousse cake, white chocolate bread dessert, and five spoons. I believe of my twin-brother trying grouper for the first time on our very own twentieth birthday celebration and stating excitedly, “just take my photo” because he planned to program his girlfriend (that is today his spouse) that he liked taking fish up to she did.

In many techniques, the Columbia feels as though the place, but my family isn’t really truly the only household to possess made thoughts at the restaurant and its particular six sister places across Florida. Individuals arrive at the cafe anyway stages of existence as it provides a special atmosphere that pairs really with any celebration.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be regular visitors in the Columbia during the early 1950s. The Columbia staff members paid tribute toward couple as well as the loving recollections they provided within restaurant by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed combination of tenderloin tips, boneless chicken, shrimp, and chicken — is actually a tasty reminder in the long reputation of relationship inside the Columbia’s eating spaces.

Whether you are going on a primary go out or honoring a marriage anniversary, you’ll find closeness and passion achieve the soft candlelight regarding the Columbia Restaurant.

“its our goals,” Michael said, “for men and women feel like the Columbia is where to get to commemorate life’s milestones.”

The Columbia Restaurant offers household standards toward Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with authentic meals, divine atmospheres, and friendly solution. The servers, at the very least at our Columbia in Sand Key, watch their friends as they are quick to say “Welcome straight back” to devoted customers which, like my children, end up going back to the stylish eating areas regularly.

This long-standing dinner institution provides grown and altered throughout the decades, nevertheless hasn’t ever forgotten the century-long family origins. Richard provides challenging intends to offer diners and daters throughout Fl inside a long time. “Our proprietor doesn’t rest,” Michael stated with a laugh. “he is usually thinking right up new things.”

The Columbia team intends to start no less than two brand-new restaurants inside the coming decades. One will be conveniently found appropriate across the street from original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to open in fall 2018, will probably pay homage to a tiny village in Sicily where a majority of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the authentic selection is designed to deliver these family members a delicious indication of house.

Suffering management and top quality styles result in the Columbia eatery as well as the sis restaurants undoubtedly remarkable places in which singles and couples can invest an evening with those they like greatest.

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