YBOR CITY, Fla. – Did you know that Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City is Florida’s oldest restaurant?
What first began in 1905 as the Columbia Saloon, a small corner cafe where cigar workers gathered, is now the largest Spanish restaurant in the world, with a seating capacity of over a thousand people.
The popular restaurant near Tampa continues to be operated and owned by Casimiro Hernández’s family. Andrea Gonzmart is Hernández’s great-great-granddaughter, an immigrant from Spain who lived in Cuba prior to arriving in the United States.
“When he initially immigrated from Cuba at the turn of the century he wanted to give you know, the comfort foods of home,” Andrea said.
One of those dishes is the popular Cuban sandwich made with ham, roast pork, salami, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard and pickles on top of Cuban bread.