Florida's oldest restaurant keeps Spanish family roots alive

ByMark Nunez and Brittany Winderman Localish logo
Friday, March 11, 2022
Florida's oldest restaurant keeps Spanish family roots alive
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This historic Florida restaurant has been providing a taste of Spain and Cuba for 117 years!

Tampa, Florida -- Travel back to 1905 when Casimiro Hernandez, Sr. immigrated from Spain and Cuba to Ybor City. What was then just a corner cafe has now grown into a whole city block with 15 dining rooms and 1,700 seats.

Now, 117 years later, Columbia Restaurant is proudly the oldest restaurant in Florida.

Fifth-generation family owner Andrea Gonzmart passionately speaks to Columbia's charm.

"When people come to the Columbia Restaurant, I hope they feel what I feel when I walk through the doors - that w'ree not just a restaurant, that it's a family. And it goes beyond the family members, our employees are our family, and I think you can see that translate into our service and our food," she said.

Their menu has many Spanish and Cuban classics like paella, arroz con pollo, and boliche. But Columbia's chefs have curated signature dishes like snapper alicante and filet mignon chacho that you can only find here.

You won't have any trouble settling on the perfect wine to pair with your meal. The historic Ybor City location has over 1,000 wines; the majority of them coming from Spain. Plus, they have a whole line of private-label wines featuring many of their family members names to keep those family roots strong.

One of Columbia's priorities is giving back to the community that has supported them for so many years, and they do so through charitable donations and events.

"It's just important that they know that we care," Gonzmart said.