Columbia Restaurant Group
The fourth-generation “caretaker” of the Columbia Restaurant Group, Richard Gonzmart has been named – among more than 100 awards – Community Hero by the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. He also has been officially named a Luminary, a Visionary and a Philanthropist of the Year as well as Father of the Year, Hispanic Man of the Year, Businessman of the Year, Alumni of the Year and Outstanding Citizen of the Year. He has been inducted into four Hall of Fames. He was selected as Entrepreneur of the Year by the USF Alumni Society of Entrepreneurs. Gonzmart serves or has served on dozens of non-profit boards and organizations. He is passionate about the education of our youth and in finding a cure for cancer.
HIs great-grandfather started the world-famous Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City in 1905. Still 100 percent family-owned, it’s now the oldest restaurant in Florida and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world with 1,700 seats and 15 dining rooms. There are seven Columbia restaurants in Florida. Newer restaurants include Cha Cha Coconuts, Ulele, Goody Goody and Café con Leche Ybor City. He has at least two more restaurants planned over the next two years.
Gonzmart once told a reporter: “I’m not just a person that walks around in a suit, shaking hands. I wake up at 1:30 a.m., wear blue jeans and start working.”