TAMPA, Fla. — It all started with Casimiro Hernandez Sr., a Spanish-Cuban immigrant.
He came to Tampa in 1902 in search of a better life and found just that in Ybor City as he helped open the Saloon Columbia in 1903. That later became the Columbia Restaurant we know today.
It has been run by the same family for five generations. It is Florida’s oldest restaurant.
It's famous for its coffee, Cuban sandwiches and its 1905 Salad. There is plenty of space to entertain, with 15 dining rooms and 1,700 seats.
It's about more than the food for this family. Casimiro Junior's daughter, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart, helped co-found the USF Latino Scholarship Fund, and organized the Ballet Folklorico of Ybor City and the Tampa Symphony Orchestra.
The Gonzmart family has been adding to the resume ever since. Columbia now has seven locations in the sunshine state.