Columbia Restaurant, Ybor City
You may remember that in an earlier blog entry I wrote about a book titled “Ybor City Chronicles” by Ferdie Pacheo.
Ybor City was the heart and soul of a vital Cuban/Spanish/Italian community from circa 1900 to circa 1950. In those years Ybor City was famous for its hand rolled cigars.
The book is a tender and affectionate account of Ferdie’s upbringing in Ybor City (a district of Tampa, FL) between the years 1935 – 1945.
In my earlier blog entry I remarked that the book made me wistful for a place and time which I never knew.
At the heart of that place was the Columbia Restaurant, est 1905.
Here is the Columbia Restaurant story.
After reading Pacheo’s book I became determined to travel the 60+ miles from Sarasota to Tampa and to dine at the Columbia.
We have a branch of the Columbia in Sarasota – it was established in the 1950’s and claims to be the oldest continually serving restaurant here – but I wanted to eat at the “mother ship” in Ybor City, Tampa.
This I did Thursday 8th April with my friends Ben, Bob and Ed. We had a 3:30 p.m. “very late lunch”. I was enchanted with the whole place.
We ate in the Patio Dining Room. I had a cup of excellent Gazpacho and a “Cuban”.
I’ve seen advertisements for “Cubans” ever since I arrived in Florida back in 2006. But I’d had no idea about what they are.
Since I was at this centre of more than 100 years of Cuban/American culture, it was the right time and place for my first Cuban. It was good!
Columbia Restaurant at night
Patio Dining Room where we had lunch