Columbia's Gonzmart building cooking school in Tampa

"I can relate to some of these students," said Richard Gonzmart of Columbia Restaurant. "That's why it's a big deal to me."
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Richard Gonzmart of Columbia Restaurant plans to buy a furniture store on North Florida Avenue, tear it down and building a cooking school, according to a report in The Tampa Bay Times.

Gonzmart had planned on supporting culinary job training in a community center at a church in Tampa Heights, but the plan fell through.

He plans to spend $2 million creating the cooking school for high school students, in addition to a bakery, ice cream plant and catering service.

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"I can relate to some of these students," he said. "That's why it's a big deal to me."

The furniture store is on the east side of North Florida Avenue, just north of East Lake Avenue.

Gonzmart had a goal of having the 9,200-square-foot culinary school be ready for students by the fall of 2016. He says the facility would be a business by day and the student would learn at night.