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2015 Award Recipient, Richard Gonzmart

The Columbia Restaurant's fourth generation co-owner and president, Richard Gonzmart, grew up in Tampa and in the restaurant business. He graduated from Jesuit High School and studied hotel and restaurant management at the University of Denver and at Escuela de Hosteleria de Madrid.

Founded in 1905 and owned continuously by the same family since then, the Columbia Restaurant is the oldest restaurant in Florida. There are now seven Columbia Restaurants and Cafes in Florida, as well as a Cha Cha Coconuts tropical bar and grill and a native-inspired Tampa restaurant and brewery called Ulele that opened to rave reviews in August 2014, including a 3 ½ star (of 4) review from the Tampa Bay Times and inclusion in the Golden Spoon Best New Restaurants list by Florida Trend magazine.

The Columbia has won hundreds of awards, including:

• All-American Icon (1 of only 50 U.S. restaurants) and Fine Dining Hall of Fame – Nation’s Restaurant News
• Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA) Award of Excellence annually since 2005
• Best of Award of Excellence for Spectacular Wine List Selection – Wine Spectator, annually since 2004
• Golden Spoon Hall of Fame: One of the Top 25 Restaurants in Florida – Florida Trend magazine

In 1999 Richard received the Alumnus of the Year Award from Jesuit High School. Jesuit High School also inducted him into their Athletic Hall of Fame. Richard was inducted into the inaugural 2001 Florida State University Dedman School of Hospitality Hall of Fame. In 2006 he was inducted into the third class of the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame alongside Thomas Edison. Richard was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award in 2013. In 2012, he was awarded Tampa’s most prestigious award at the Governor’s Luncheon as Civitan Citizen of the Year. This year the Junior League of Tampa and WEDU honored him with their Inaugural Luminaries Award.

Through the Gonzmart Family Foundation, Richard and the Columbia Restaurant Group have donated millions of dollars to charities, including Moffitt Cancer Center, the University of South Florida and Jesuit High School.

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