Columbia Restaurant

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Coordinates: 27°57′36″N 82°26′6″W / 27.96000°N 82.43500°W / 27.96000; -82.43500

Columbia Restaurant
IndustryFood Service
Founded1905 in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida
HeadquartersTampa, Florida
Number of locations
Area served
Key people
Casey & Richard Gonzmart
ProductsSpanish & Cuban Food, Wine & Entertainment
Revenue$42M (1991-last published)
Number of employees
ParentColumbia Restaurant Group

The original Columbia Restaurant, located in the historic Ybor City neighborhood in Tampa, Florida, is the oldest continuously operated restaurant in Florida,[1] the oldest Spanish restaurant in the United States[2] and one of the largest Spanish restaurants in the world with 1,700 seats in 15 dining rooms taking up 52,000 square feet over an entire city block.[1] Founded in 1905 in, the landmark is still owned by the Hernandez/Gonzmart family and serves Spanish and Cuban cuisine.[3]

In June 2009, the Columbia Restaurant was selected as one of the 25 iconic restaurants of the Tampa-St.Petersburg area by Laura Reily, the food critic of the St. Petersburg Times.[4] Also Nation's Restaurant News named it a "Top 50 All-American icon."[1]


The restaurant's wine list contains more than 1,056 wines with an inventory exceeding 50,000 bottles, and Columbia has won several awards for their Spanish wines.[5][6] They feature several private label wines that were created to honor the memory of family members, and the popular house Sangria is mixed tableside.

Exterior from across 7th Avenue, Ybor City


Flamenco dancing[edit]

The restaurant features performances of flamenco, one of Spain's traditional dances, consists of rhythmic steps performed on a hardwood floor, and originated with Spanish Gypsies. It has evolved through the years to the more structured form we have become familiar with. Classical Spanish dances consist of ballet moves in colorful Spanish costumes accompanied by the sound of castanets.

Community Harvest[edit]

Over 90 nonprofit organizations received more than $168,000 from the Columbia Restaurant's 15th Annual Community Harvest campaign, held annually in the month of September. The chain donates 5% of all guests' lunch and dinner checks and allows patrons to designate the charitable organizations their choice. Over the past 14 years, the event has generated more than $1.5 million to nonprofits throughout Florida.[7]

Indoor courtyard dining room, Ybor City

Cesar Gonzmart Memorial Golf Tournament[edit]

The CGMGT was begun in 1998 by Columbia Restaurant owners Richard and Casey Gonzmart in memory of their father. Proceeds from the event are donated to a local charity or non-profit organization. The 18th Annual Cesar Gonzmart Memorial Gourmet Golf Tournament raised over $60,000 for the University of South Florida in 2013.

  • The 7th Annual CGMGT and the Sant 'Yago Education Foundation gave $5,000 to support the American Heart Association's American Heart Heroes Week project, an initiative that provides camp experiences for children with cardiovascular disease.[8]
  • The 8th Annual CGMGT raised over $55,000 for Moffitt Cancer & Research Institute, the University of South Florida Athletic Association, and the Adela & Cesar Gonzmart Endowed Memorial Scholarship, part of the USF Latino Scholarship Program.[9]
  • The 13th Annual CGMGT raised over $50,000 for the University of South Florida in Tampa. The University of South Florida Athletic Association and the Columbia Restaurant Centenario Endowed Scholarship, part of the USF Latino Scholarship Program.
Columbia Restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida, 2007

1905 Day[edit]

On a Sunday in mid-September 1980 (the restaurant's 75th anniversary) until September 2013, they celebrated 1905 Day. On that day, a special menu with 1905 prices was in effect from noon to 7:00pm.[10] Menu items had included:

  • Chicken & Yellow Rice "Ybor", Boliche (eye round of beef) or Merluza "Russian Style" for $2.95
  • Columbia's Original "1905 Salad" for $1.95
  • Sangria for 95¢ & coffee for 5¢
  • Dessert Flan for 50¢

The event was extremely popular usually resulting in long lines forming very early in the day.[11]

According to Richard Gonzmart, President of the Columbia Restaurant Group, "1905 Day is our way of thanking all of our customers who have contributed to the success of the Columbia for over 100 years and five generations of ownership. We are convinced that we would not be celebrating our 102nd anniversary without the support of the communities we serve.[10]


External links[edit]