The Quick variation: Since 1905, the Columbia eatery has served Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and beverages that represent a long-standing family history. Launched by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia continues to be a regional favored due to its conventional meals and friendly solution. Over the years, people from worldwide came for the glamorous cafe to celebrate involvements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, alongside monumental moments. Today, the 4th and fifth years from the family possesses and runs 13 different restaurants throughout Florida. If you’re searching for fine food with a good old-fashioned household experience, you can reserve a table during the spectacular and passionate dinner areas with the Columbia Restaurant.


For the past 30 years, my family’s favored vacation destination happens to be an oceanfront resort in Sand Key, Fl. We have now gone here over a dozen times to create sand castles, place dolphins, and eat tasty meals on patios ignoring the Gulf of Mexico.

We’ve got thoroughly investigated town’s restaurant option, looking from the most useful regional bones around, nonetheless it merely so occurs that one bistro we-all enjoy a lot of is within strolling distance of our hotel. The Columbia Restaurant’s white-linen tablecloths, mindful solution, and mouth-watering food make it all of our go-to spot for dinner.

As soon as we had been kids, my moms and dads would get us a parmesan cheese pizza while they went to this romantic Spanish restaurant alone; but we have now enjoy tapas and drink equally as much as they carry out, so we’ve started crashing their own night out — often providing along times of one’s very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant provides wowed patrons with Spanish and Cuban dishes and an old-world atmosphere. Even though itis the oldest bistro in Florida, the business remains operated by descendants with the original president. Every product about selection has actually an account behind it, and lots of associated with recipes happen passed from one generation in the Hernandez Gonzmart family to a higher. Family tradition is a huge an element of the Columbia’s menu, record, and method of service.

“The staff can also be a little like household,” said Michael Kilgore, the principle advertising Officer your Columbia. “a number of our staff members remain for 20 or 3 decades. Among situations we love about our party is just how long they stick to you. They arrive right here in order to find a house.”

You may enjoy this comfy and welcoming atmosphere on your subsequent night out by visiting any of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia eatery currently acts guests in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, and Celebration. Whether you’re sipping drink on a picturesque balcony or enjoying flamenco dancers illuminate the stage although you consume tapas, you are certain to have a memorable night at the Columbia.

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

The Columbia Restaurant can locate the record back to Dec. 17, 1903 — similar time the Wright brothers effectively tested society’s basic airplane. That was when a Cuban immigrant known as Casimiro Hernandez Sr. began working a saloon for a nearby brewing business in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious business owner turned the saloon into a prominent 60-seat cafe known for its real Cuban coffee and sandwiches. Following his achievements, Casimiro ordered a cafe or restaurant across the street and converted it into a striking dining room. In 1930, their child took over control and process for the flourishing bistro.

During Great Depression, their boy Casimiro Jr. created 1st air-conditioned living area in Tampa. The guy hoped their upscale look and raised party floor would draw individuals the restaurant that assist them forget their own worries for per night. The Don Quixote place was actually popular, while the Columbia managed to hold their doorways available although different companies collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto their sole son or daughter, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an experienced artist who had met her husband, Cesar Gonzmart, from the Tampa cafe. This theatrical set brought entertainment and artistry on Columbia, setting up a showroom that managed lots of talented Latin performers and musicians. Under Adela and Cesar’s leadership, the Columbia extended to Sarasota and various other areas in Fl.

These days, one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and held his family’s company going. Richard Gonzmart has-been operating at their family members’ restaurants since he was 12 yrs . old, very he could be thoroughly acquainted its atmosphere and history. Richard can point to the dining table at Columbia eatery in which the guy along with his partner had their particular basic big date a lot more than 43 years ago.

“there’s lots of relationship here, and in addition we have a great tale,” said Michael. “Less than 15 restaurants in the United States are family-owned and more than a century old, therefore we’re in pretty elite organization.”

Fl’s oldest bistro has actually a happy and enduring background rooted in meals, family members, and enjoyable. Michael informed all of us the 5th generation of the founding family is currently becoming groomed to take control eventually. Richard’s daughters and nephew have taken on effective administration roles at restaurants and they are willing to maintain household custom opting for more many years to come.

The Columbia might recognized with some from the greatest awards for the cafe market, including induction into Nation’s Restaurant Information’ “great Dining Hall of popularity,” earned the “Distinguished Restaurants of North America (SiRoNA) honor of Excellence,” Florida Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “better of honor of Excellence.”

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

The Columbia eatery sets a lavish dining table and an enjoyable escape from everyday life. It seduces your own senses from the moment you walk-in the doorways. You’re enclosed by greenery, water fountains, and artwork as the sounds of fun and the odors of fresh seafood meals waft through the air. Before my order actually extends to me personally, my personal lips is definitely watering with expectation. Thankfully, each guest will get his or her own freshly generated loaf of Cuban bread, so I have one thing to meet my tastebuds while we wait.

The 14-page selection is full of great meals but in addition provides effortless talk beginners for daters merely getting to know each other. Each entrée, appetizer, and treat comes with an enticing description as well as interesting background info. For instance, the cafe’s coconut ice-cream ended up being a preferred of ice cream business person Gustavo Hernandez, the third child from the initial Columbia founder, and after this this sweet meal is actually offered within his respect.

Through the veggie paella (Spanish grain mixed with hearty vegetables) into shrimp great (shrimp wrapped in wafer-thin bacon), the meals during the Columbia are bursting with flavor. The shareable plates, also known as tapas, make this cafe ideal for partners on a night out together since you will come closer together by sharing tiny dishes of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. You can easily make a budget-friendly meal by purchasing multiple among these appetizers with each other — keep in mind to save lots of place for treat!

The Très Amigos churros would-be a great option for couples because they’re tactile, nice, and merely a tiny bit dirty. You can easily dip the piping-hot churros in candy, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s a little for everybody. In addition, Columbia’s trademark light Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent dessert excellent for splitting with a date having a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler blog site known as the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s leading date-night spots, motivating partners to “start out with Columbia’s famous 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with much panache, following discuss a huge plate of the Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, fragrant rice, and chorizo.”

Your enchanting night will be-all the greater amount of enjoyable if you pair along with your dinner one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, a refreshing drink named after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and partner.

Plus, in the Columbia Restaurant, the sangria is perish for. Severely, it comes because of the cup but you can additionally divide a pitcher of white or red sangria with a romantic date to enhance the food experience. Amply big cuts of fruit drift inside the wine and infuse it with wealthy tastes. Whether you are buying this classic sangria or among the bistro’s family members wines, the high-caliber products do not disappoint.

Michael informed all of us the team tends to make an effort to provide affordable yet top quality wines to whet friends’ appetites. “Our wine option must certanly be perfectly designed for the food we provide and your selling price,” he stated.

Countless Couples & households Have Shared specialized Moments Here

When I think regarding the Columbia, In my opinion for the night we chose to have treat for supper, and my parents bought churros, crucial lime pie, mango mousse cake, white chocolate breads pudding, and five spoons. In my opinion of my personal twin brother attempting grouper for the first time on our twentieth birthday celebration and stating excitedly, “simply take my image” because he planned to program their girl (that’s now their wife) which he enjoyed taking fish whenever she did.

In so many means, the Columbia feels like our very own destination, but my loved ones isn’t the sole household to have produced memories at this bistro as well as its six sister locations across Fl. People started to the bistro after all stages of life as it provides an unique atmosphere that pairs well with any celebration.

Famously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio happened to be frequent visitors for the Columbia in early 1950s. The Columbia personnel paid tribute into few and also the enjoying recollections they contributed within bistro by naming a dish after all of them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed mixture of tenderloin recommendations, boneless chicken, shrimp, and pork — is actually a tasty note in the long reputation of relationship from inside the Columbia’s eating rooms.

Whether you are happening a primary day or honoring a wedding anniversary, you will find closeness and enthusiasm flourish in the gentle candlelight associated with Columbia Restaurant.

“It’s one of the goals,” Michael mentioned, “for men and women feel as if the Columbia is where to come to commemorate existence’s milestones.”

The Columbia Restaurant has household Values towards Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with authentic dishes, divine atmospheres, and friendly service. The hosts, about at the Columbia in Sand Key, pay attention to their particular friends and are quick to express “Welcome straight back” to dedicated clients which, like my loved ones, find themselves time for the classy dining areas over repeatedly.

This long-standing dinner place provides grown and changed throughout the decades, nonetheless it has never forgotten its century-long household roots. Richard provides committed intends to provide diners and daters throughout Fl inside the years into the future. “Our manager does not sleep,” Michael said with a laugh. “He’s usually dreaming upwards something totally new.”

The Columbia group intends to open up at the very least two brand-new restaurants inside the coming years. One will be conveniently situated right next door from the initial Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open in fall 2018, can pay honor to a small community in Sicily where most Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants came from — the authentic eating plan aims to bring these family members a tasty indication of home.

Suffering authority and top quality tastes make Columbia eatery and all of their brother restaurants certainly amazing locations in which singles and partners can spend an evening together with those they love finest.