The Sunshine State’s oldest restaurant is still owned and operated by family members who diligently care for it and help preserve the founder’s American dream.
Florida’s oldest restaurant and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world was established in 1903 after a young Spanish-Cuban immigrant, Casimiro Hernandez Snr, opened a tiny saloon at the corner of 22nd st and Broadway which is now 7th Ave In Ybor City, Tampa Florida.
Being a prime location for a bar, Saloon Columbia quickly became the favorite joint for cigar workers in Tampa’s Latin Quarter, Ybor City. In 1905, Saloon Columbia officially became the Columbia Restaurant, a nice joint where various individuals could rest and enjoy Spanish and Cuban recipes, or snag a Cuban Sandwich to eat on the job.
Columbia is famous for offering guests a new enjoyable dining experience that always differs from the last one. It has over the years grown to envelop the entire city block with seats for over 1,700 people in 15 different dining rooms.
Today, the five-generation family-owned landmark is Florida’s oldest restaurant and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. As Florida’s oldest restaurant, Columbia has seven locations in Florida and is still owned and operated by family members who diligently care for the Columbia Restaurant and help preserve his American dream.
This Tampa staple has served up the same delicious Spanish and Cuban cuisine for 115 years. Famous foods include the Spanish Bean Soup that made Columbia famous. Garbanzo beans simmered with smoked ham, chorizo sausage, and potatoes in a delicious broth of chicken and ham. And the Gazpacho Andalucia, Spain's famous cold soup of purée of ripe tomatoes, green peppers, onions, cucumbers, and garlic. Topped tableside with finely diced vegetables and toasted Cuban croutons.
If you’re thinking of visiting this amazing historic restaurant, then you must catch the nightly flamenco dance show which runs every night except Sundays. The must-see rhythmic dance offers an extraordinary entertainment experience to guests. It consists of ballet moves in colorful Spanish costumes accompanied by the distinctive sound of castanets.
A second location operates at Tampa International Airport. There are now five Columbia Restaurant locations and two Columbia Cafes at the Tampa Bay History Center and Tampa International Airport.
In 2016, the family brought a beloved Tampa restaurant, Goody Goody Burgers, back to life in Tampa's Hyde Park Village. The iconic diner serves handmade pies and the famous Goody Goody Burger P.O.X., made with original recipes from 1925.
What started as a small saloon in a corner has through consistent growth become the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. Now in the fifth generation, the Hernandez/Gonzmart family still owns and operates the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor.
The Columbia Restaurant is located at 2117 East 7th Avenue, Tampa.
Author’s Note: This article is solely for information purposes. The embedded links and information shared in the article are attributed to columbiarestaurant.com, en.wikipedia.org, and 1905familyofrestaurants.com.
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