The brief Version: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant provides served Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and products that represent a long-standing family history. Launched by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia continues to be a local favored due to the traditional meals and friendly solution. Over time, people from worldwide came towards glamorous cafe to celebrate engagements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, along with other monumental minutes. These days, the next and 5th generations associated with the household possesses and runs 13 various restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for fine dinner with a good antique family members experience, you’ll reserve a table inside spectacular and passionate dinner areas associated with Columbia eatery.


Over the past 30 years, my family’s favored holiday destination happens to be an oceanfront hotel in Sand Key, Fl. We’ve eliminated truth be told there over several times to construct sand castles, spot dolphins, and consume tasty dishes on patios overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

We’ve carefully explored the city’s bistro choice, searching from the greatest neighborhood joints about, nonetheless it only very happens your one bistro each of us enjoy many is within strolling range your resort. The Columbia Restaurant’s white-linen tablecloths, mindful service, and mouth-watering food succeed our very own go-to area for lunch.

When we happened to be young ones, my parents would order you a parmesan cheese pizza as they checked out this romantic Spanish cafe alone; but we currently enjoy tapas and wine equally as much because they carry out, therefore we’ve started crashing their date night — occasionally providing along dates your very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery features wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world ambiance. Even though it’s the oldest cafe in Florida, business continues to be operated by the descendants of this initial president. Every object from the eating plan has actually a story behind it, and lots of on the recipes have now been transmitted from one generation on the Hernandez Gonzmart family members to another location. Family members custom is a huge area of the Columbia’s selection, background, and method of service.

«the employees can also be slightly like family members,» stated Michael Kilgore, the main promotional Officer for any Columbia. «quite a few workers stay for 20 or three decades. One of several situations we love about all of our team is the length of time they stick with us. They come right here and locate property.»

You may enjoy this comfy and welcoming atmosphere on the subsequent date night by going to any one of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant presently serves friends in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and party. Whether you are sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or enjoying flamenco performers light the period even though you consume tapas, you are certain to have a remarkable night from the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can track the background back again to Dec. 17, 1903 — the same day the Wright brothers successfully tested the world’s very first aircraft. That was whenever a Cuban immigrant known as Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began working a saloon for a regional brewing company in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person turned the saloon into a favorite 60-seat cafe noted for its genuine Cuban coffee-and snacks. Following his success, Casimiro bought a cafe or restaurant next door and converted it into an attractive dining area. In 1930, their child took more than ownership and process associated with thriving cafe.

Through the Great Depression, his child Casimiro Jr. created the initial air-conditioned living area in Tampa. The guy hoped the trendy look and raised dance floor would draw individuals to the restaurant that assist them forget their unique concerns for a night. The Don Quixote place was actually a success, additionally the Columbia surely could hold the doors open while many different organizations collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia on to his only kid, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an experienced musician that has met the woman spouse, Cesar Gonzmart, at the Tampa restaurant. This theatrical pair brought activity and artistry on Columbia, setting up a showroom that hosted numerous skilled Latin performers and performers. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia extended to Sarasota alongside areas in Florida.

Nowadays, certainly Adela and Cesar’s two sons has brought the reins and held their family’s business going. Richard Gonzmart has-been functioning at their family’s restaurants since he was 12 yrs old, therefore he could be thoroughly familiar with its environment and record. Richard can actually suggest the table during the Columbia Restaurant where he along with his partner had their particular very first day above 43 in years past.

«there’s lots of love right here, and we also have a fantastic tale,» mentioned Michael. «under 15 restaurants in the United States are family-owned and more than 100 years outdated, therefore we’re in pretty elite organization.»

Florida’s oldest cafe has actually a satisfied and enduring background rooted in food, household, and enjoyable. Michael told all of us the 5th generation with the founding household happens to be being groomed to take control of one-day. Richard’s daughters and nephew took in active control parts within restaurants and tend to be prepared to keep consitently the family heritage opting for a lot more a long time.

The Columbia is recognized with many associated with highest honors into the cafe sector, such as induction into country’s eatery Information’ «great Dining Hall of popularity,» made the «Distinguished Restaurants of united states (SiRoNA) Award of quality,» Fl Trend’s «Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,» and Wine Spectator’s «Best of honor of Excellence.»

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

The Columbia Restaurant sets a lavish dining table and gives a wonderful escape from everyday activity. It seduces your own sensory faculties as soon as you walk in the doorways. You are enclosed by greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork as the noises of laughter and scents of fresh fish dishes waft through the atmosphere. Before my order actually reaches me personally, my lips is often watering with anticipation. Thankfully, each visitor becomes his / her own newly produced loaf of Cuban breads, and so I have actually one thing to satisfy my personal preferences while I wait.

The 14-page menu is full of good meals but supplies effortless dialogue starters for daters merely learning the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert includes an enticing information together with interesting history info. As an instance, the bistro’s coconut ice cream was actually a favorite of ice cream business person Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd child on the original Columbia president, and after this this nice dish is served inside the respect.

Through the vegetarian paella (Spanish grain combined with satisfying veggies) into shrimp great (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the meals at Columbia are bursting with taste. The shareable dishes, also known as tapas, get this to bistro perfect for lovers on a date since you may come closer collectively by revealing small plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. It is possible to create a budget-friendly meal by ordering various among these appetizers collectively — keep in mind to save lots of place for treat!

The Très Amigos churros might be a great option for couples because they’re tactile, nice, and simply a tiny bit messy. You’ll be able to dip the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s something for everybody. Additionally, Columbia’s signature White Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent dessert ideal for splitting with a night out together who may have a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site known as the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s leading date-night spots, promoting lovers to «start off with Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, immediately after which share an enormous platter of Paella a la Valenciana, filled with shellfish, fragrant grain, and chorizo.»

The romantic evening will be-all the greater number of enjoyable if you pair along with your dinner one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, an abundant drink named after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetheart and girlfriend.

Plus, at the Columbia eatery, the sangria will be perish for. Really, referring of the glass but you can in addition split a pitcher of white or red sangria with a night out together to enhance your own food knowledge. Generously big pieces of fruit float inside the wine and infuse it with wealthy tastes. Whether you are purchasing this traditional sangria or one of the restaurant’s household wines, the high-caliber beverages don’t disappoint.

Michael told you the team tends to make an endeavor to offer affordable but top quality wines to whet guests’ appetites. «All of our drink variety needs to be completely designed for the foodstuff we serve plus price,» the guy stated.

Countless partners & households have actually Shared specialized Moments Here

When I think with the Columbia, i believe of this evening we made a decision to have dessert for supper, and my personal parents ordered churros, key lime pie, mango mousse meal, white candy bread dessert, and five spoons. I do believe of my personal twin-brother trying grouper for the first time on our very own twentieth birthday celebration and stating excitedly, «Take my personal photo» because he wanted to show his sweetheart (who’s today his partner) which he enjoyed taking in fish as much as she performed.

In countless techniques, the Columbia feels as though the spot, but my children actually the only family members having produced memories at the restaurant and its particular six sister locations across Florida. Men and women come to the cafe whatsoever stages of life given that it supplies a special environment that pairs well with any gathering.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had been constant guests for the Columbia during the early 1950s. The Columbia employees settled tribute with the few and also the warm thoughts they shared on bistro by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe «Salteado» — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin tips, boneless chicken, shrimp, and chicken — is actually a tasty note on the long history of relationship when you look at the Columbia’s dining rooms.

Whether you’re happening a primary go out or celebrating a wedding anniversary, you will discover intimacy and love flourish in the gentle candlelight associated with the Columbia eatery.

«It is a targets,» Michael said, «to have men and women feel like the Columbia is the place to come to commemorate existence’s goals.»

The Columbia Restaurant Brings group Values for the Table

The Columbia eatery charms daters with real meals, divine atmospheres, and friendly service. The computers, at the least at all of our Columbia in Sand Key, look closely at their particular guests and tend to be rapid to state «Welcome straight back» to devoted customers which, like my children, are returning to the classy dining rooms over and over repeatedly.

This long-standing dinner establishment provides grown and changed through the many years, but it never forgotten the century-long household roots. Richard provides ambitious intentions to offer diners and daters throughout Florida during the years to come. «the owner does not sleep,» Michael mentioned with a laugh. «he is always fantasizing right up something new.»

The Columbia team plans to open up at the least two brand-new restaurants inside the impending decades. One will be conveniently situated appropriate down the street through the original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to open up in fall 2018, pay homage to a little community in Sicily where most Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants came from — the real selection aims to deliver these families a delicious indication of home.

Enduring authority and quality types make Columbia eatery and all sorts of its sis restaurants really amazing spots in which singles and couples can invest an evening with those they love best.