Columbia Restaurant Group provide prepared meals for staff, launches staff assistance fund

Exterior of a historic restaurant in Ybor City

Businesses owners, residents, and community leaders are coming together in incredible ways to support those effected by the COVID-19 pandemic. No restaurant has a greater legacy in the state of Florida than The Columbia, and the restaurant group operates several concepts throughout the region, and Sunshine State.

The Columbia Restaurant Group’s street-side restaurants are closed to the public after the state mandate that dine-in restaurants close. While the doors are shut, the Restaurant Group is working hard to make sure its team is fed.

In times of crisis, it's good to remember the lessons of the past. The Columbia has 115 years of lessons to use as a…

Posted by Columbia Restaurant Group on Friday, April 3, 2020

Preparing meals for nearly 900 staff members

Richard Gonzmart and chef with the Restaurant Group, in partnership with Gordon Food Service Store, have been preparing and providing meals for its nearly 900 staff members. This is in addition to providing meals for first responders.

With the help of business friends who believed in the restaurants (including La Segunda Central BakerySSANaviera Coffee MillsGordon Food Service Inc, and even Mr Greens Produce) the Columbia Restaurant Group is raising ample funds for its staff. These local businesses are buying gift cards and providing product and supporting fundraising efforts through sales of Columbia Restaurant gift cards online.

Columbia Restaurant Group – Employee Support Meals

The Columbia Restaurant Group on Monday began providing pre-prepared staff meals for pickup at the Columbia in Ybor. Meals for staff at the Columbias in Sarasota and Sand Key and at Cha Cha Coconuts in Sarasota took place today (Tuesday). Celebration and St. Augustine will follow. These are for staff only; there’s no public takeout. The measures are part of an effort by Richard Gonzmart, president and 4th-generation caretaker of the 115-year-old company, to assist furloughed staff members, including selling Columbia Restaurant gift cards online at For purchases before the end of April, 100 percent of the money will go to the Columbia Restaurant Group Employee Assistance Fund, a pool of money that will be provided to employees at all the company’s brands: Columbia Restaurant, Ulele, Goody Goody and Cha Cha Coconuts. During the same period, for any purchase of $500 in gift cards, the company is adding another $50 to the buyer’s order. The direct link for purchasing gift cards: In addition, Gonzmart pledged to pay full health benefits for all furloughed employees until at least through April. “The last thing you need to worry about right now is your health coverage,” he wrote to staff members on Monday.

Posted by Columbia Restaurant Group on Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Columbia is Florida’s oldest restaurant

The Columbia in Tampa’s Historic Ybor City was founded in 1905 and is Florida’s Oldest RestaurantSM. 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 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 Columbia Restaurant Cafe at Tampa International Airport, which is operated in partnership with HMSHost.

You can follow Columbia Restaurant Group on its website and Facebook for updates.

Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to