Columbia restaurant group temporarily closes all restaurants in response to coronavirus pandemic

Columbia restaurant group temporarily closes all restaurants in response to coronavirus pandemic
Columbia restaurant group temporarily closes all restaurants in response to coronavirus pandemic (Source: WWSB-ABC7)

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Columbia restaurant group is temporarily closing all of their restaurants following an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis forcing all restaurants to close dining.

As a result of these closures, the company will be furloughing 1,400 employees all of their restaurants. This includes the Columbia, the Columbia Cafe, Ulele, Cha Cha Coconuts and Goody Goody. This does not include the four restaurant located at Tampa International Airport.

“We’re taking this step to comply with Gov. DeSantis’ order and to protect the health of our guests, our team members and our 115-year-old company,”Richard Gonzmart, a fourth generation caretaker of the Columbia restaurant group said. “It’s absolutely the right thing to do. As hard as this is, it’s the only way forward. With drastic measures now, we’ll be able to reopen and come back strong."

"Fortunately, we have history, experience and resources that will help us get through this. At the Columbia, we have survived World War I and II, Prohibition, the Depression, Urban Renewal and we’ll survive this, too, by making tough decisions now. We look forward to welcoming you back once this medical crisis passes.”

The Columbia restaurant group has been around for 115 years and is the oldest restaurant in the Sunshine state.

“We’ll come back stronger," Michael Kilgore, the Chief Marketing Officer for the Columbia restaurant group said. "Our ownership group is committed. It’s awful and terrible and depressing and heartbreaking but we’re going to get through it.”

Sarasota Columbia, located in St. Armand’s Circle, opened in 1959 and it is the second oldest restaurant of the group.

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