Kilgore will oversee marketing and public relations for the seven Columbia locations throughout Florida.
He will also oversee marketing and public relations for the Gonzmart Family’s newest concept, Ulele, (pronounced: You-lay-lee) opening in spring of 2014. The Gonzmarts and their team will redevelop the historic Tampa Heights Waterworks building to create a restaurant and brewery serving unique foods and spirits by fusing elements from a rich variety of Native American and multicultural cuisines. The menu will feature items indigenous to local waters and crops, with significant influence by the components and flavors of the early Native Americans who lived in Florida, and European explorers.
“The Columbia Restaurant Group just became a much better company, thanks to Michael joining our team,” said fourth generation family member and Columbia Restaurant Group president, Richard Gonzmart. “Along with our talented and dedicated staff, Michael will take us to the next level in both marketing and communications. He will be another ambassador in each of the Florida communities where we have restaurants, as well as for our newest concept Ulele and of course our original 108-year-old iconic restaurant right here in Ybor City,” Gonzmart said.
“Michael and I have known one another for more than 20 years. We partnered on numerous projects, including his informal advice on our 100th anniversary celebration in 2005, and other initiatives with The Tampa Tribune and Straz Performing Arts Center,” said Gonzmart.
“I’m extremely proud to join the Columbia Restaurant Group team,” Kilgore said. “I’ve been an admirer for a long time, not just of the Columbia’s business success, but also of the very tight bonds with the communities the Columbia Restaurants’ serve. This is a very exciting period in the more than 100 years of Columbia history, and my mission is to help continue that success,” said Kilgore.
Kilgore most recently worked at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa as vice president of marketing, where his department was in charge of event marketing, institutional marketing for Straz Center restaurants, retail and development marketing, PR, graphics, publications, customer service, digital and social marketing and video production.
During his time there, the Straz Center’s Carol Morsani Hall was named one of the top five most-attended venues in the world (under 5,000 seats) for the last 10 years, according to Billboard and Venues Today magazines.
Before that, Michael worked as Marketing Director for The Tampa Tribune, where he was in charge of circulation and advertising, marketing, promotions, graphics and special sections plus exclusive signage deals and sponsorships of the Bucs, Lightning, Rays and USF among many others. He started his career at the Tribune in News — as a writer, editor and senior news executive.
He has been very involved in the Tampa Bay area community, serving on the boards of Visit Tampa Bay (as chairman), Tampa Theatre, MOSI, Florida Aquarium, Eckerd College advisors and the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. He is the current chairman of Sherloq Solutions, a Tampa-based, national business-to-business firm that provides debt collection, extended business office and other services. He’s also on the UT Board of Fellows, and was a USF Mass Communications Alumni of the Year.
In 2009, he was named the Road Marketer of the Year by the Broadway League, an organization that represents Broadway producers and presenters (such as the Straz). He was the chairman or co-chairman of the Performing Arts Center Consortium Marketing Committee and the Broadway League Road Advisory Committee.
The Columbia Restaurant in Tampa’s Historic Ybor City was founded in 1905 and is Florida’s oldest restaurant. Additional locations include St. Armands Circle in Sarasota, the Historic District in St. Augustine, Sand Key on Clearwater Beach, Central Florida’s town of Celebration, the Columbia Café on the Riverwalk in Tampa and the Columbia Restaurant Café at Tampa International Airport. All Columbia locations are owned and operated by fourth and fifth generation members of the founding family; except for Columbia Restaurant Cafe at Tampa International Airport which is operated in partnership with HMSHost. Please see www.columbiarestaurant.com for more information.
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