Adela Hernandez Gonzmart

By Peggy Macdonald

Restaurateur, musician, philanthropist (Tampa)


Remembered for: Preserved the traditional cuisine of her Cuban American grandparents’ restaurant, the Columbia

Why you should know her:

In 1905, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart’s Cuban American grandfather, Casimiro Hernandez, Sr. founded the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. Today, the Columbia is the oldest restaurant in Florida and the largest Spanish restaurant in the U.S. Along with her husband, Cesar Gonzmart, Adela helped her family’s restaurant thrive and survive into a new century.

Born in Tampa in 1920, two blocks from her family’s restaurant, Adela Gonzmart’s passion was music. A concert pianist, she graduated from the Juilliard School of Music. In 1946, Adela married Cesar Gonzmart, a concert violinist. She played at Carnegie Hall and performed with such entertainers as Liberace and Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona. Adela and Cesar toured the U.S. and Cuba together until 1953, when Adela’s father, Casimiro Hernandez Jr. became ill. They took over the reins at the Columbia, sharing the duties of running the restaurant and caring for their two sons.

Adela Gonzmart remained active in music. She helped to establish the Tampa Symphony Orchestra (the forerunner of the Florida Orchestra) and continued to play well into her 70s, even though she suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome. She was a founder of the Ballet Folklorico of Ybor and the Ybor City Museum. A savvy businesswoman, Gonzmart served three consecutive terms as president of the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce. She was a founding member of the University of South Florida’s Presidential Latin Advisory Committee and helped establish the Latino Scholarship Fund at the university. Adela Gonzmart continued to work at the Columbia Restaurant until her death in 2001, at age 81.

Featured imageAdela Gonzmart