The brief Version: Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant features offered Spanish and Cuban-inspired dishes and beverages that portray a long-standing genealogy. Created by a Cuban immigrant in Tampa, the Columbia continues to be a regional preferred due to its standard ingredients and friendly service. Over the years, people from all over the globe attended on the glamorous restaurant to commemorate involvements, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, as well as other monumental moments. Now, the last and fifth generations in the family members is the owner of and operates 13 various restaurants throughout Fl. If you’re looking for good dinner with a good traditional family feel, it is possible to reserve a table inside the stunning and enchanting food rooms on the Columbia eatery.


For the past 30 years, my children’s favorite vacation destination happens to be an oceanfront lodge in Sand Key, Fl. We have gone here over 12 instances to create sand castles, area whales, and eat tasty meals on patios overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

We’ve got completely discovered town’s restaurant selection, looking around from greatest neighborhood bones about, it simply thus happens that the one cafe all of us enjoy many is actually within strolling length your resort. The Columbia Restaurant’s white linen tablecloths, conscious service, and mouth-watering food allow it to be the go-to spot for lunch.

When we were children, my moms and dads would order all of us a parmesan cheese pizza pie even though they went to this passionate Spanish restaurant by yourself; however, we have now enjoy tapas and wine just as much while they would, so we’ve started crashing their night out — often delivering along times in our very own.

Since 1905, the Columbia Restaurant features wowed clients with Spanish and Cuban meals and an old-world ambiance. Though it’s the oldest bistro in Fl, the business enterprise remains run from the descendants of this original founder. Every object on selection has actually a story behind it, and many on the meals being handed over from one generation for the Hernandez Gonzmart family members to a higher. Family members custom is an enormous the main Columbia’s eating plan, record, and way of service.

“the employees can be somewhat like family,” stated Michael Kilgore, the main promotional Officer for all the Columbia. “Many of our staff members remain for 20 or 3 decades. One of many things we like about the party is actually how long they stay with united states. They show up right here in order to find a house.”

You can enjoy this comfy and inviting atmosphere in your then adult date site night by going to any one of the Columbia’s seven various restaurants. The Columbia Restaurant currently serves friends in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Clearwater seashore, and party. Whether you are drinking wine on a picturesque balcony or seeing flamenco performers light up the level even though you eat tapas, you are sure to have a remarkable night in the Columbia.

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

The Columbia eatery can locate its history returning to Dec. 17, 1903 — exactly the same day the Wright brothers successfully tested the planet’s first plane. Which was when a Cuban immigrant called Casimiro Hernandez Sr. started working a saloon for an area brewing business in Tampa’s Ybor City.

In 1905, the industrious entrepreneur turned the saloon into popular 60-seat cafe known for the real Cuban coffee and sandwiches. After his success, Casimiro ordered a restaurant next door and changed it into a gorgeous dining area. In 1930, his child got more than ownership and process of thriving bistro.

During the Great anxiety, his son Casimiro Jr. created one air-conditioned kitchen in Tampa. He hoped its trendy appearance and raised party flooring would draw men and women to the bistro which help them forget their own concerns for every night. The Don Quixote place had been a success, therefore the Columbia was able to hold its doors open while many some other companies collapsed.

In 1953, Casimiro Jr. passed the Columbia onto his only youngster, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, an accomplished musician who had met the woman husband, Cesar Gonzmart, during the Tampa cafe. This theatrical pair brought enjoyment and art towards Columbia, setting up a showroom that managed many skilled Latin performers and musicians. Under Adela and Cesar’s management, the Columbia extended to Sarasota also areas in Florida.

Nowadays, certainly one of Adela and Cesar’s two sons has taken the reins and held his family members’ company heading. Richard Gonzmart happens to be working at their family members’ restaurants since he had been 12 yrs . old, very he’s closely knowledgeable about its environment and history. Richard can point out the table during the Columbia eatery in which the guy and his awesome wife had their particular first date significantly more than 43 years back.

“there’s lots of love right here, so we have actually a great tale,” said Michael. “below 15 restaurants in america tend to be family-owned and more than 100 years old, therefore we’re in pretty elite organization.”

Fl’s earliest bistro has actually a pleased and enduring background rooted in food, family, and fun. Michael told united states the 5th generation for the founding household happens to be being groomed to take control someday. Richard’s daughters and nephew took in productive administration roles in the restaurants and are usually prepared to maintain the household tradition going for more years to come.

The Columbia has been acknowledged with many on the highest prizes in the bistro industry, such as induction into country’s eatery Information’ “good eating Hall of Fame,” gained the “notable Restaurants of America (SiRoNA) Award of quality,” Fl Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of popularity,” and Wine Spectator’s “good Award of Excellence.”

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

The Columbia eatery sets a luxurious table and gives a delightful escape from every day life. It seduces your own sensory faculties as soon as you walk in the doors. You’re enclosed by greenery, h2o fountains, and artwork because noise of laughter and also the smells of new seafood dishes waft through environment. Before my purchase actually extends to myself, my throat is obviously watering with expectation. Luckily for us, each visitor will get his / her own freshly produced loaf of Cuban loaves of bread, so I have one thing to please my personal tastebuds while I wait.

The 14-page diet plan is full of great food additionally provides effortless conversation starters for daters just learning each other. Each entrée, appetizer, and dessert comes with an enticing explanation including interesting history info. Such as, the bistro’s coconut frozen dessert ended up being a preferred of frozen dessert entrepreneur Gustavo Hernandez, the 3rd boy regarding the original Columbia founder, and after this this nice dish is served within his respect.

From the vegetarian paella (Spanish grain blended with satisfying greens) on shrimp great (shrimp covered with wafer-thin bacon), the meals in the Columbia are bursting with taste. The shareable plates, labeled as tapas, make this restaurant well suited for couples on a date since you will come better with each other by sharing little plates of empanadas, sliced chorizo, croquetas, or stuffed peppers. It’s easy to create a budget-friendly dinner by ordering several of those appetizers together — just remember to truly save place for treat!

The Très Amigos churros was a great choice for partners because they’re tactile, nice, and just a tiny bit messy. It is possible to dip the piping-hot churros in chocolate, caramel, or guava sauce so there’s something for everybody. Additionally, Columbia’s trademark light Chocolate Bread Pudding is actually an indulgent treat ideal for splitting with a night out together who has a taste for white chocolate and rum sauce.

In 2017, the Marriott Traveler web log named the Columbia Restaurant among St. Augustine’s leading date-night spots, promoting partners to “start off with Columbia’s popular 1905 Salad, assembled table-side with a lot panache, right after which share a massive plate associated with the Paella a la Valenciana, overflowing with shellfish, aromatic rice, and chorizo.”

The passionate evening will be all the greater amount of enjoyable any time you pair with your food one cup of the Melanie Chardonnay, a wealthy drink known as after Melanie Gonzmart, Richard’s high-school lover and girlfriend.

Plus, within Columbia Restaurant, the sangria is die for. Seriously, referring of the glass but you can additionally separate a pitcher of white or red sangria with a night out together to improve your eating experience. Amply huge pieces of good fresh fruit drift in drink and infuse it with rich flavors. Whether you are buying this classic sangria or among the many cafe’s household wines, the high-caliber beverages usually do not disappoint.

Michael informed united states the team tends to make an endeavor available inexpensive however quality wines to whet visitors’ appetites. “the wine option needs to be completely designed for the food we offer and your selling price,” the guy said.

Many Couples & groups Have Shared Special times Here

When I think regarding the Columbia, In my opinion for the night we decided to have dessert for supper, and my parents bought churros, crucial lime pie, mango mousse dessert, white candy loaves of bread pudding, and five spoons. I do believe of my personal twin-brother attempting grouper for the first time on the 20th birthday and stating excitedly, “simply take my image” because he desired to show his gf (that is now their partner) that he loved taking fish as much as she performed.

In so many techniques, the Columbia feels like our very own spot, but my children isn’t really truly the only family members to have produced thoughts at the restaurant as well as its six sister locations across Florida. Folks started to the cafe at all stages of life given that it provides a special atmosphere that sets well with any party.

Notoriously, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had been repeated visitors with the Columbia in early 1950s. The Columbia staff members settled tribute to your pair and enjoying memories they shared in the bistro by naming a dish after them. The Marilyn & Joe “Salteado” — a sautéed combination of tenderloin recommendations, boneless chicken white meat, shrimp, and pork — is actually a tasty note on the long reputation of relationship in the Columbia’s dining rooms.

Whether you are happening an initial go out or remembering a wedding anniversary, you will discover closeness and enthusiasm flourish in the comfortable candlelight with the Columbia eatery.

“It’s one of our objectives,” Michael stated, “having folks feel like the Columbia is the place to come to celebrate existence’s milestones.”

The Columbia eatery offers household standards into the Table

The Columbia Restaurant charms daters with real meals, divine atmospheres, and personable service. The computers, at the very least at the Columbia in Sand Key, pay attention to their unique friends and so are quick to say “Welcome right back” to loyal clients whom, like my family, end up returning to the classy eating rooms regularly.

This long-standing dining business has expanded and changed in the decades, however it hasn’t ever forgotten its century-long family members origins. Richard has actually challenging intentions to provide diners and daters throughout Florida for the many years to come. “Our proprietor doesn’t sleep,” Michael stated with a laugh. “he is usually dreaming upwards something new.”

The Columbia group plans to open up at the very least two brand-new restaurants from inside the following years. One will be conveniently found appropriate next door through the original Columbia in Tampa. Casa Santo Stefano, set to open in autumn 2018, will pay honor to limited town in Sicily where a lot of Tampa’s Sicilian immigrants arrived from — the genuine menu aims to deliver these people a delicious indication of house.

Suffering authority and high quality tastes make Columbia eatery as well as its cousin restaurants undoubtedly amazing places where singles and lovers can invest a night in the company of those they love finest.