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The Family-Owned Columbia Eatery: Florida’s Oldest Restaurant Creates a lovely Background For Your Intimate Times

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The Short variation: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant has actually supported Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and drinks that represent a long-standing family history. Launched by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia stays an area favorite because of its old-fashioned ingredients and friendly solution. Over time, people from all around the globe came for the glamorous bistro to celebrate engagements, anniversaries, birthdays, and various other monumental minutes. Nowadays, the last and fifth generations of this family members possesses and functions 13 various restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for fine dinner with a decent antique family members feel, you’ll reserve a table into the stunning and romantic dinner rooms in the Columbia Restaurant.


Over the past thirty years, my family’s favored holiday destination has-been an oceanfront resort in Sand Key, Fl. We have eliminated there over 12 instances to create mud castles, place dolphins, and eat tasty dishes on patios ignoring the gulf.

We now have thoroughly discovered the city’s restaurant option, looking around from the greatest regional bones about, however it only so happens that one bistro most of us enjoy a lot of is within taking walks distance in our lodge. The Columbia eatery’s white-linen tablecloths, attentive solution, and mouth-watering meals allow the go-to spot for dinner.

Whenever we happened to be young ones, my moms and dads would purchase all of us a cheddar pizza even though they went to this passionate Spanish cafe by yourself; however, we have now enjoy tapas and drink as much while they do, so we’ve started crashing their particular date night — sometimes bringing along times of our own very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world atmosphere. Although it’s the oldest cafe in Fl, the organization is still run of the descendants of the original creator. Every product in the menu has a story behind it, and lots of of this meals are handed over from one generation regarding the Hernandez Gonzmart family to the next. Household practice is an enormous the main Columbia’s selection, background, and approach to solution.

“the employees is also quite like family members,” stated Michael Kilgore, the main Marketing Officer for Columbia. “Many of our employees stay for 20 or 30 years. Among the many situations we love about all of our party is how long they stick to you. They arrive here and locate a house.”

You can enjoy this comfortable and pleasant atmosphere on your then date night when you go to any one of the Columbia’s seven different restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant at this time serves guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you’re sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or watching flamenco performers light the level when you consume tapas, you’re guaranteed to have a remarkable evening within Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can locate its history back to Dec. 17, 1903 — alike time the Wright brothers successfully tested the world’s first aircraft. That was when a Cuban immigrant called Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began operating a saloon for an area brewing company in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business person switched the saloon into a well known 60-seat cafe noted for its real Cuban coffee and snacks. Soon after their achievements, Casimiro bought a restaurant next-door and switched it into a gorgeous kitchen. In 1930, their child took more than possession and procedure in the thriving bistro.

While in the Great anxiety, his son Casimiro Jr. created initial air-conditioned dining room in Tampa. The guy hoped the trendy appearance and raised party flooring would draw men and women to the cafe that assist all of them forget about their own fears for per night. The Don Quixote area was a success, in addition to Columbia surely could keep their doorways available even though many additional companies collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia to his only kid, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an established musician who had met the woman partner, Cesar Gonzmart, within Tampa cafe. This theatrical set introduced entertainment and artistry on Columbia, setting up a showroom that hosted numerous talented Latin performers and artists. Under Adela and Cesar’s management, the Columbia expanded to Sarasota and other places in Florida.

Today, certainly Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and held their family’s company going. Richard Gonzmart might operating at their family members’ restaurants since he was 12 years of age, therefore he is thoroughly familiar with their environment and record. Richard can in fact point out the dining table in the Columbia eatery where he and his spouse had their unique very first date more than 43 in years past.

“there are plenty of love here, and we also have a fantastic tale,” mentioned Michael. “lower than 15 restaurants in the usa tend to be family-owned and more than 100 years old, so we’re in pretty elite company.”

Florida’s oldest restaurant has a proud and enduring record grounded on food, household, and enjoyable. Michael told united states the 5th generation with the founding family is currently getting groomed to take control 1 day. Richard’s daughters and nephew took in productive management parts during the restaurants and so are willing to maintain household heritage going for even more years to come.

The Columbia is known with many for the highest awards in cafe sector, including induction into Nation’s Restaurant Information’ “okay food Hall of Fame,” made the “Distinguished Restaurants of united states (SiRoNA) Award of Excellence,” Florida Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “better of honor of Excellence.”

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

The Columbia eatery sets a luxurious dining table and provides an enjoyable escape from everyday life. It seduces your senses as soon as you walk-in the doorways. You’re in the middle of greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork as noise of laughter and odors of fresh fish and shellfish dishes waft through air. Before my personal purchase also reaches me personally, my personal lips is watering with expectation. The good news is, each guest becomes his/her very own newly produced loaf of Cuban bread, thus I have actually one thing to fulfill my personal taste buds while we wait.

The 14-page eating plan is filled with good food additionally provides effortless talk beginners for daters simply learning one another. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat is sold with an enticing information as well as interesting history info. As an instance, the cafe’s coconut frozen dessert had been a preferred of ice-cream business person Gustavo Hernandez, the next son on the original Columbia founder, and today this sweet dish is actually served in his honor.

From the veggie paella (Spanish rice mixed with hearty vegetables) towards shrimp supreme (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the meals during the Columbia are bursting with flavor. The shareable dishes, called tapas, get this bistro well suited for couples on a night out together because you will come closer together by discussing small plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. You can easily create a budget-friendly meal by buying a couple of of these appetizers collectively — just remember to save lots of place for dessert!

The Très Amigos churros was an excellent selection for couples because they’re tactile, sweet, and just some messy. You’ll dip the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce generally there’s something for everybody. Positive, Columbia’s trademark White Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent treat perfect for splitting with a romantic date that has a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site known as the Columbia eatery among St. Augustine’s top date-night spots, encouraging partners to “start out with Columbia’s famous 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, immediately after which discuss a massive plate of this Paella a la Valenciana, filled with shellfish, aromatic grain, and chorizo.”

Your own romantic night will be-all the greater enjoyable if you set with your dinner one glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, a rich drink known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and spouse.

Plus, within Columbia Restaurant, the sangria is to die for. Really, it comes because of the glass but you can additionally separate a pitcher of white or purple sangria with a night out together to improve the eating knowledge. Generously large slices of good fresh fruit drift inside the wine and infuse it with wealthy types. Whether you’re purchasing this traditional sangria or among bistro’s family wines, the high-caliber drinks don’t let you down.

Michael told united states the team can make an endeavor available inexpensive yet quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “Our drink selection must be perfectly designed for the food we serve and your cost,” he stated.

Many Couples & Families Have Shared particular times Here

When i do believe associated with the Columbia, I think in the night we decided to have dessert for lunch, and my personal parents bought churros, crucial lime pie, mango mousse cake, white chocolate breads dessert, and five spoons. I think of my twin-brother trying grouper the very first time on the twentieth birthday and saying excitedly, “just take my personal photo” because he wished to reveal his gf (that’s today his girlfriend) he loved taking in fish approximately she did.

In so many steps, the Columbia feels as though our very own location, but my loved ones isn’t really the only family members to have produced thoughts at the restaurant and its particular six sister places across Florida. Folks come to the bistro anyway phases of existence as it supplies a unique atmosphere that sets really with any gathering.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were constant visitors associated with Columbia during the early 1950s. The Columbia employees settled tribute for the few and also the loving memories they provided on cafe by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed blend of tenderloin guidelines, boneless chicken white meat, shrimp, and chicken — is actually a tasty reminder from the long history of love into the Columbia’s dining spaces.

Whether you are going on a first time or remembering a marriage anniversary, you’ll find closeness and love achieve the gentle candlelight regarding the Columbia Restaurant.

“It really is our goals,” Michael said, “having individuals feel as if the Columbia is the place to come to celebrate existence’s milestones.”

The Columbia eatery has group standards to the Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with genuine dishes, divine atmospheres, and friendly service. The hosts, at the least at our Columbia in Sand Key, look closely at their visitors and are fast to state “Welcome back” to faithful customers who, like my loved ones, are returning to the classy dining rooms time and again.

This long-standing eating establishment has cultivated and changed throughout the years, nonetheless it never forgotten the century-long household sources. Richard has committed intentions to provide diners and daters throughout Florida into the a long time. “our very own owner does not rest,” Michael said with a laugh. “He’s always fantasizing up new things.”

The Columbia staff intentions to open up at least two new restaurants during the upcoming decades. One will be conveniently found appropriate down the street from the original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open up in fall 2018, can pay respect to a tiny town in Sicily in which a majority of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants emerged from — the genuine selection will deliver these families a tasty indication of house.

Enduring authority and top quality tastes result in the Columbia Restaurant and all the sibling restaurants truly remarkable locations where singles and lovers can invest a night together with those they like most readily useful.

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