YBOR CITY, Fla., Jan. 31, 2014 – Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam presented the “Fresh From Florida Century of Excellence” Award to Richard Gonzmart, a fourth generation family member operating the legendary Columbia Restaurant – Florida’s oldest restaurant – in Ybor City today.
The Columbia Restaurant received the award from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for more than 100 years of stewardship and promotion of Florida’s agricultural and seafood products.
“Because of the hard work, passion and commitment of the Hernandez-Gonzmart family, the Columbia Restaurant is a Florida landmark,” said Commissioner Putnam. “We are proud to recognize the Columbia Restaurant with the ‘Fresh From Florida Century of Excellence’ Award for more than a century of world class service, success and promotion of Florida agriculture and seafood.”
Founded in 1905 by Cuban immigrants, the Columbia Restaurant is the oldest continually operated restaurant in Florida, one of the oldest Spanish restaurants in the United States and one of the largest Spanish restaurants in the world, taking up an entire city block.
Former Governor Bob Martinez joined Commissioner Putnam in recognizing the Columbia Restaurant and paid tribute to the Hernandez-Gonzmart family.
“The Columbia Restaurant receiving the ‘Fresh From Florida Century of Excellence’ Award reflects their place as the cultural and culinary heart of Ybor City for the last century,” said former Governor Bob Martinez. “My father worked as a server at Columbia Restaurant for nearly 40 years, so I couldn’t be happier to see them receive recognition for their more than 100 years of hard work promoting Florida products.”
Today, seven Columbia Restaurant locations serve a blend of Spanish and Cuban cuisine throughout Florida. The restaurant is famous for its Devil Crab Croquettes, Snapper “Adelita” and the Columbia’s Original ‘1905’ Salad, packed full of fresh Florida produce and inspired by the immigrants that made up the Latin district of Ybor City.
The Columbia Restaurant is the second recipient of this “Fresh From Florida Century of Excellence” Award. The award has also been presented to Joe’s Stone Crabs of Miami Beach.
For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, including recipes featuring Fresh From Florida products, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.
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