The Family-Owned Columbia Dining establishment: Florida’s Oldest Dining establishment Develops an Attractive Background For Your Charming Minutes

For the previous 30 years, my family members’s preferred getaway location has actually been an oceanfront resort in Sand Key, Florida. We’ve gone there over a lots times to construct sand castles, place dolphins, as well as consume tasty dishes on patio areas neglecting the Gulf of Mexico.

We have actually completely checked out the community’s dining establishment option, seeking the very best neighborhood joints around, however it so occurs that the one dining establishment most of us appreciate most is within strolling range of our resort. The Columbia Restaurant’s white bed linen table linens, conscientious solution, as well as delicious food make it our best area for supper.


The initial Columbia Restaurant in Tampa has actually 15 tastefully enhanced dining-room.

When we were children, my moms and dads would certainly purchase us a cheese pizza while they saw this charming Spanish dining establishment alone; nevertheless, we currently appreciate tapas as well as wine equally as high as they do, so we’ve begun collapsing their day evening– in some cases bringing along days of our very own.

Given that 1905, the Columbia Restauranthas wowed customers with Spanish as well as Cuban meals and also a quaint atmosphere. Although it’s the earliest dining establishment in Florida, business is still run by the offspring of the initial creator. Every thing on the food selection has a tale behind it, and also much of the dishes have actually been passed from one generation of the Hernandez Gonzmart household to the following. Household practice is a big component of the Columbia’s food selection, background, as well as technique to solution.

” The team is additionally a little bit like household,” stated Michael Kilgore, the Chief Marketing Officer for the Columbia. “Many of our staff members remain for 20 or Three Decade. Among the important things we like concerning our team is how much time they stick with us. They come right here and also locate a residence.”

You could appreciate this comfy and also inviting ambience on your following day evening by mosting likely to any type of among the Columbia’s 7 various dining establishments. The Columbia Restaurant presently offers visitors in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and also Celebration. Whether you’re drinking wine on a stunning veranda or seeing flamenco professional dancers illuminate the phase while you consume tapas, you’re certain to have an unforgettable night at the Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant could map its background back to Dec. 17, 1903– the exact same day the Wright siblings efficiently evaluated the globe’s very first aircraft. That was when a Cuban immigrant called Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started running a cocktail lounge for a neighborhood developing business in Tampa’s Ybor City.


In 1905, the laborious business owner transformed the barroom right into a preferred 60-seat coffee shop recognized for its genuine Cuban coffee as well as sandwiches. Following his success, Casimiro acquired a dining establishment following door and also transformed it right into a lovely dining-room. In 1930, his kid took control of possession and also procedure of the growing dining establishment.

Throughout the Great Depression, his boy Casimiro Jr. developed the initial cool dining-room in Tampa. He wished its high end appearance and also raised dancing flooring would certainly attract individuals to the dining establishment and also assist them neglect their concerns for an evening. The Don Quixote Room was a hit, as well as the Columbia had the ability to maintain its doors open while numerous various other services folded up.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia on his only kid, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an achieved artist that had actually satisfied her partner, Cesar Gonzmart, at the Tampa dining establishment. This staged set brought amusement and also virtuosity to the Columbia, developing a display room that organized lots of skilled Latin professional dancers as well as artists. Under Adela as well as Cesar’s management, the Columbia broadened to Sarasota as well as various other areas in Florida.

Today, among Adela as well as Cesar’s 2 boys has actually taken the reins as well as maintained his family members’s company going. Richard Gonzmart has actually been operating at his family members’s dining establishments given that he was 12 years of ages, so he is totally accustomed to its environment as well as background. Richard could really indicate the table at the Columbia Restaurant where he as well as his better half had their initial day greater than 43 years earlier.


” There’s a great deal of love right here, as well as we have a fantastic tale,” stated Michael. “Less compared to 15 dining establishments in the United States are family-owned as well as greater than 100 years of ages, so we’re in rather exclusive business.”.

Florida’s earliest dining establishment has a pleased and also long-lasting background rooted in food, family members, as well as enjoyable. Michael informed us the 5th generation of the starting household is presently being brushed to take control of eventually. Richard’s little girls as well as nephew have actually tackled energetic administration functions at the dining establishments as well as prepare to maintain the family members practice opting for much more years ahead.

The Columbia has actually been identified with several of the highest possible honors in the dining establishment market, consisting of induction right into Nation’s Restaurant News’ ” Fine Dining Hall of Fame,” made the “Distinguished Restaurants of North America (SiRoNA) Award of Excellence,” Florida Trend’s ” Golden Spoon Hall of Fame,” and also Wine Spectator’s ” Best of Award of Excellence.”.

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

The Columbia Restaurant establishes a luxurious table and also supplies a fascinating getaway from day-to-day life. It attracts your detects from the minute you stroll in the doors. You’re bordered by plant, water fountains, and also art work as the noises of giggling as well as the gives off fresh fish and shellfish recipes float via the air. Prior to my order also reaches me, my mouth is constantly sprinkling with expectancy. The good news is, each visitor obtains his/her very own fresh made loaf of Cuban bread, so I have something to please my taste while I wait.

The Columbia’s signature recipe for Red Snapper Alicante dates back to 1938.


The 14-page food selection has plenty of great food yet likewise offers simple discussion beginners for daters simply learning more about each other. Each entrée, appetiser, and also treat features an attracting summary along with intriguing history info. For example, the dining establishment’s coconut gelato was a fave of gelato business owner Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd kid of the initial Columbia owner, and also today this wonderful meal is offered in his honor.

From the vegan paella (Spanish rice blended with hearty veggies) to the shrimp supreme (shrimp covered in thin bacon), the foods at the Columbia are breaking with taste. The shareable plates, called tapas, make this dining establishment suitable for pairs on a day due to the fact that you could come more detailed with each other by sharing little plates of empanadas, sliced up chorizo, croquetas, or packed peppers. You could conveniently make an economical dish by purchasing a couple of these appetisers with each other– simply bear in mind to conserve area for treat!

The Très Amigos churros would certainly be an outstanding selection for pairs since they’re responsive, wonderful, and also simply a little untidy. You could dip the piping-hot churros in delicious chocolate, sugar, or guava sauce so there’s a something for everybody. And also, Columbia’s trademark White Chocolate Bread Pudding is an indulgent treat ideal for splitting with a day that has a preference for white delicious chocolate and also rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site called the Columbia Restaurant amongst St. Augustine’s leading date-night places, urging pairs to “begin with Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, set up table-side with much charisma, and after that share a large plate of the Paella a la Valenciana, overruning with shellfish, fragrant rice, as well as chorizo.”.

Your enchanting evening will certainly be even more delightful if you couple with your dish a glass of the Melanie Chardonnay, an abundant wine called after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school sweetie as well as other half.

And also, at the Columbia Restaurant, the sangria is to crave. Seriously, it visits the glass yet you could additionally divide a bottle of white or red sangria with a day to boost your eating experience. Kindly huge pieces of fruit float in the wine as well as instill it with abundant tastes. Whether you’re buying this traditional sangria or among the dining establishment’s family members wines, the superior beverages do not dissatisfy.

Michael informed us the group makes an initiative to supply cost effective yet quality wines to sharpen visitors’ cravings. ” Our wine choice need to be flawlessly matched for the food we offer and also your cost factor,” he stated.

Numerous Couples & Families Have Shared Special Moments Here

 When I consider the Columbia, I think about the evening we made a decision to have treat for supper, and also my moms and dads gotten churros, crucial lime pie, mango mousse cake, white delicious chocolate bread dessert, and also 5 spoons. I think about my twin bro attempting grouper for the very first time on our 20th birthday celebration as well as claiming excitedly, “Take my photo” due to the fact that he intended to reveal his partner (that’s currently his better half) that he delighted in consuming fish as high as she did.

In a lot of means, the Columbia seems like our area, yet my household isn’t really the only family members to have actually made memories at this dining establishment as well as its 6 sis places throughout Florida. Individuals concern the dining establishment whatsoever phases of life since it offers an unique ambience that sets well with any kind of party.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and also Joe DiMaggio were constant visitors of the Columbia in the very early 1950s. The Columbia team commemorated the pair as well as the caring memories they shared at the dining establishment by calling a recipe after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado”– a sautéed combination of tenderloin pointers, boneless poultry bust, shrimp, as well as pork– is a tasty suggestion of the lengthy background of love in the Columbia’s dining-room.

Whether you’re taking place an initial day or commemorating a wedding event anniversary, you’ll discover affection as well as enthusiasm grow in the soft candlelight of the Columbia Restaurant.

” It’s one of our objectives,” Michael stated, “to have individuals really feel as if the Columbia is the area to find to commemorate life’s landmarks.”.

The Columbia Restaurant Brings Family Values to the Table

The Columbia Restaurant appeals daters with genuine meals, magnificent ambiences, as well as personalized solution. The web servers, a minimum of at our Columbia in Sand Key, take note of their visitors as well as fast to state “Welcome back” to faithful consumers that, like my household, discover themselves going back to the stylish dining-room time and again.


This enduring eating facility has actually expanded as well as altered throughout the years, yet it has never ever neglected its century-long family members origins. Richard has enthusiastic strategies to offer restaurants and also daters throughout Florida in the years to find. ” Our proprietor does not rest,” Michael claimed with a laugh. “He’s constantly thinking up something brand-new.”.

The Columbia group intends to open up a minimum of 2 brand-new dining establishments in the years to coming. One will certainly be easily situated right nearby from the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, readied to open up in autumn 2018, will certainly admire a tiny town in Sicily where a bulk of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants came from– the genuine food selection intends to bring these family members a scrumptious suggestion of residence.

Long-lasting management as well as top quality tastes make the Columbia Restaurant as well as all its sibling dining establishments really impressive areas where songs as well as pairs could invest a night among those they enjoy finest.

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