The University of South Florida’s Alumni Society of Entrepreneurs invites you to their 5th Annual Tampa Entrepreneurship Gala, Havana Nights at 7:00pm on Friday, May 20 at the Centre Club. Join as they recognize some of Tampa Bay’s finest business leaders while enjoying the thrill of entertaining casino games and bidding on unique silent auction items.
This year the Alumni Association will be honoring Entrepreneur of the Year and Keynote Speaker, Richard Gonzmart, 4th Generation Gonzmart Family of Restaurants. Richard Gonzmart’s education in the hospitality industry began when he was born. His earliest recollection was at the age of 3½ when his grandfather, Casimiro Hernandez Jr., taught him how to identify fresh fish. He is the great-grandson of Casimiro Hernandez, Sr., the founder of the world-famous Columbia Restaurant in Tampa’s Historic Ybor City. The Columbia was founded in 1905 and is the oldest restaurant in Florida and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. Under Richard’s direction, the Columbia recovered from near-fatal financial problems in 1992 and is now thriving not only with the original brand, but also with four other concepts and more on the way. [Continued below]
The Alumni Association will also be honoring Ella Bling as Social Entrepreneur of the Year, whose bowties and other fashion products benefit the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. Ella Bing was created in the summer of 2012, in order to help bring the Kraus family closer together, due to the unexpected death of son and brother Matthew Kraus. The Kraus Family handcrafts 90% of every single product sold with care and detail. In an effort to raise awareness about suicide the Kraus family proudly donates 10% of every sale to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.
All proceeds of this event will benefit the Michael W. Fountain Endowed Scholarship Fund to continue its efforts to further entrepreneurial initiatives and provide financial assistance to Tampa Bay entrepreneurship students. Attendance has a direct impact on Tampa Bay’s future business leaders as the next scholarship recipient will be announced and previous award winners will be recounted.
Tickets are $75 and available at entrepenurshipgala.com.
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[Continued] – The Columbia has expanded from two locations to seven: From the flagship Columbia in Ybor City to Sarasota, St. Augustine, Sand Key on Clearwater Beach, Celebration, the Columbia Cafe on the Riverwalk in Tampa and the Columbia Restaurant Cafe at Tampa International Airport. All Columbia locations are owned and operated by 4th and 5th generation members of the founding family, except for the Columbia Restaurant Cafe at Tampa International Airport, which is operated in partnership with HMSHost. Gonzmart is also responsible for the creation and development of Cha Cha Coconuts, with a location in Sarasota. In August 2014 Richard opened Ulele, an award-winning restaurant on the Hillsborough River, just north of downtown Tampa in Tampa Heights. It’s the site of a former City of Tampa Water Works building. Richard’s latest project involves Goody Goody, a Tampa landmark since 1925 and closed since 2005. The iconic restaurant will reopen this year in Tampa’s Hyde Park Village. The Columbia Restaurant Group will have four restaurants at Tampa International Airport after the completion of the billion-dollar expansion there later this year.