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The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Florida’s Oldest Eatery Produces an attractive Backdrop To Suit Your Romantic Times

The Family-Owned Columbia Restaurant: Florida’s Oldest Eatery Produces an attractive Backdrop To Suit Your Romantic Times

The Short variation: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually supported Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and beverages that signify a long-standing genealogy and family history. Based by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia remains an area favored due to the standard foods and friendly solution. Over time, people from worldwide came towards glamorous bistro to celebrate engagements, anniversaries, birthdays, and various other monumental minutes. Now, the fourth and 5th generations of family members possesses and runs 13 different restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re searching for great eating with a decent old-fashioned family members feel, possible reserve a table in the stunning and passionate dinner rooms regarding the Columbia eatery.


For the past thirty years, my children’s favored vacation destination is an oceanfront hotel in Sand Key, Fl. We have now eliminated indeed there over twelve times to construct sand castles, place dolphins, and consume tasty meals on patios overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

There is carefully discovered the town’s restaurant option, looking around from greatest regional bones around, however it merely thus takes place your one bistro each of us enjoy most is within walking range in our resort. The Columbia eatery’s white linen tablecloths, attentive service, and mouth-watering meals succeed our go-to place for supper.

Once we had been kids, my moms and dads would order united states a parmesan cheese pizza pie as they visited this enchanting Spanish restaurant alone; but we have now enjoy tapas and drink as much as they carry out, so we’ve started crashing their particular night out — often providing along times your own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world ambiance. Though it’s the earliest restaurant in Fl, the company continues to be operate of the descendants on the initial founder. Every object about eating plan has actually a story behind it, and several of meals being handed over from one generation with the Hernandez Gonzmart household to a higher. Household tradition is a huge part of the Columbia’s eating plan, background, and method of solution.

“the employees is also some like family,” stated Michael Kilgore, the main advertising Officer for your Columbia. “a number of our staff members remain for 20 or three decades. One of several situations we love about all of our team is the length of time they stay with all of us. They show up right here and find a property.”

You may enjoy this comfy and pleasant environment on your own after that date night by visiting any of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant presently acts visitors in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and party. Whether you are drinking wine on a picturesque balcony or enjoying flamenco performers illuminate the level when you take in tapas, you’re sure to have an unforgettable night in the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can locate their background back to Dec. 17, 1903 — equivalent time the Wright brothers effectively tried society’s very first plane. Which was whenever a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began operating a saloon for a nearby making company in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person switched the saloon into popular 60-seat cafe known for their real Cuban coffee-and sandwiches. Following his success, Casimiro purchased a cafe or restaurant nearby and changed it into an attractive kitchen. In 1930, their daughter took more than ownership and procedure associated with the thriving restaurant.

During Great Depression, his boy Casimiro Jr. built the first air-conditioned kitchen in Tampa. The guy hoped the trendy appearance and raised dance flooring would draw men and women to the cafe that assist them forget their own fears for a night. The Don Quixote Room had been popular, and also the Columbia surely could keep their doorways available while many some other companies folded.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto his only child, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an established artist who had met the woman husband, Cesar Gonzmart, during the Tampa restaurant. This theatrical pair introduced entertainment and art toward Columbia, establishing a showroom that hosted a lot of skilled Latin dancers and performers. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota also places in Florida.

Today, certainly Adela and Cesar’s two sons has brought the reins and kept his family’s business heading. Richard Gonzmart happens to be operating at his family members’ restaurants since he was 12 years old, therefore they are intimately knowledgeable about their atmosphere and record. Richard can indicate the dining table in the Columbia eatery in which the guy and his awesome girlfriend had their particular basic big date more than 43 years back.

“There’s a lot of romance right here, and we have the story,” said Michael. “lower than 15 restaurants in the us are family-owned and more than a century old, therefore we’re in pretty elite organization.”

Florida’s earliest cafe features a proud and enduring background grounded on food, household, and fun. Michael told united states the 5th generation of founding family is getting groomed to take-over 1 day. Richard’s daughters and nephew have taken in productive administration parts at the restaurants and are ready to keep the household heritage going for many more years into the future.

The Columbia has become known with some regarding the highest prizes when you look at the bistro industry, including induction into country’s Restaurant Information’ “Fine Dining Hall of Fame,” obtained the “notable 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 sets a luxurious table and gives an enjoyable getting away from every day life. It seduces your own sensory faculties from the moment you walk-in the doors. You are enclosed by greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork as the noises of laughter and also the scents of fresh fish and shellfish dishes waft through the environment. Before my personal order also reaches myself, my mouth is watering with anticipation. Luckily for us, each visitor becomes his/her own recently made loaf of Cuban bread, so I have something you should meet my tastebuds while I wait.

The 14-page eating plan is filled with good food but additionally provides effortless discussion starters for daters just observing the other person. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert is sold with an enticing explanation along with fascinating back ground info. As an instance, the cafe’s coconut ice cream was actually a well liked of ice-cream business person Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd son of this original Columbia founder, and today this nice plate is served in his respect.

Through the vegetarian paella (Spanish rice blended with satisfying vegetables) to your shrimp supreme (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the meals in the Columbia tend to be bursting with taste. The shareable dishes, labeled as tapas, make this cafe suitable for partners on a romantic date because you will come closer collectively by discussing tiny dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. You can generate a budget-friendly dinner by purchasing a couple of of the appetizers together — remember to save area for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros might possibly be a fantastic option for lovers since they are tactile, nice, and just somewhat dirty hookups. It is possible to dip the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s a little for all. Positive, Columbia’s signature light Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent treat perfect for splitting with a night out together that a taste for white candy and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site known as the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s top date-night areas, encouraging couples to “start with Columbia’s famous 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, then share an enormous plate of the Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, aromatic rice, and chorizo.”

The enchanting evening will be-all more satisfying in the event that you set together with your food one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, an abundant drink called after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and wife.

Plus, within Columbia eatery, the sangria is die for. Really, it comes from the cup you could also split a pitcher of white or red sangria with a night out together to enhance the eating experience. Nicely large pieces of good fresh fruit drift for the drink and infuse it with wealthy styles. Whether you are buying this traditional sangria or one of several cafe’s family members wines, the high-caliber drinks you should never let you down.

Michael informed us the team helps make an attempt to supply inexpensive but top quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “Our drink variety must perfectly fitted to the meal we provide and your selling price,” he said.

Many Couples & households Have Shared particular Moments Here

When i believe of Columbia, i do believe on the evening we chose to have dessert for dinner, and my parents bought churros, important lime pie, mango mousse meal, white candy loaves of bread pudding, and five spoons. I do believe of my personal twin-brother attempting grouper for the first time on our very own 20th birthday and claiming excitedly, “Take my personal picture” because he wished to show their gf (who is today their partner) which he enjoyed taking in fish just as much as she performed.

In so many steps, the Columbia feels like our very own location, but my family is not the only real household to possess produced thoughts during that bistro and its six sister places across Florida. Men and women come to the bistro after all phases of existence since it provides a unique environment that sets well with any party.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had been constant guests associated with Columbia during the early 1950s. The Columbia staff members settled tribute for the couple in addition to loving thoughts they contributed within cafe by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin guidelines, boneless chicken, shrimp, and chicken — is a tasty reminder of the long reputation of love in Columbia’s dining rooms.

Whether you’re happening an initial big date or celebrating a marriage anniversary, you’ll find intimacy and enthusiasm achieve the smooth candlelight from the Columbia eatery.

“It’s one of our goals,” Michael said, “to own individuals feel like the Columbia is where to come calmly to commemorate life’s goals.”

The Columbia Restaurant Brings household standards toward Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with genuine meals, divine atmospheres, and personable solution. The hosts, at the very least at our very own Columbia in Sand Key, look closely at their own visitors and are generally fast to state “Welcome straight back” to loyal clients whom, like my family, end up time for the stylish dining rooms regularly.

This long-standing eating establishment has expanded and changed in the years, it never forgotten about their century-long family members roots. Richard has committed intends to offer diners and daters throughout Fl inside the a long time. “All of our owner does not rest,” Michael mentioned with fun. “he is usually fantasizing upwards new things.”

The Columbia group plans to open no less than two new restaurants inside upcoming years. One will be easily situated correct across the street from the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set-to start in fall 2018, can pay respect to a little community in Sicily in which a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the genuine eating plan is designed to bring these family members a tasty reminder of home.

Enduring leadership and top quality types make Columbia eatery as well as its brother restaurants undoubtedly amazing spots where singles and partners can invest a night in the company of those they like best.

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