Columbia Restaurant owners fulfill lifelong dream of owning entire building

Columbia Restaurant owners set new plans

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A big step forward for a culinary icon on the Suncoast. For decades, people have enjoyed eating at the Columbia Restaurant on St. Armands Circle in a building they’ve always rented. Now they can call it their own.

“This was dream that my dad had and I’m glad to make it happen,” said Richard Gonzmart.

A dream his family shared for generations.

“This building, this city is so important to my family,” he said.

Gonzmart is the president and fourth generation family member of the Columbia Restaurant. And for 60-years, the restaurant has been a staple in St. Armands Circle. This location, known for its Spanish menu, attracts dozens of locals and visitors daily. Now after all these year, its owners can finally call this building their own.

“We want to provide a better experience for the guest and locals dinning,” said Gonzmart.

Last week, the Columbia bought this property, and is already planning to make some changes, including upgrading the kitchen, and improving the rear of the restaurant where traffic has increased because of the new parking garage. A totally different view from when the restaurant opened its doors locally back in 1959.

“Before it was discovered, there weren’t all these shops. There was a gasoline station across the street,” Gonzmart told ABC7 on Monday.

This made Gonzmart’s grandfather initially question the location of the restaurant. But fast forward to now, Gonzmart says he’s glad his grandfather didn’t move, so he can continue bringing his family’s dishes and history to the community.

“It’s a satisfaction the recipes stay the same and we have to make sure they stay constant,” said Executive Chef Jesus Padilla.

And most importantly fulfilling the American dream.

“We’re promoting and remembering where we came from. That we came from nothing but we worked hard and to provide others opportunity,” said Gonzmart.

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