The Columbia Restaurant, Where Eating is an Experience

At 10:30 last night, after arriving back home from Julianna’s 21st Family Birthday Dinner (that included one very special friend), I quickly checked my email and popped a note on facebook about how completely blessed and FULL I was. 

I really felt like it was ALL of our birthday!! 
I had ALL (can I repeat that..ALL!) of my children and grandchildren together in one place with me and my honey! 

There is NOTHING!! that tops that for me here on this earth!

Julianna’s choice for this historic event was “The Columbia Restaurant” at St Armands Key, Flordia. It is about a one hour drive from our home and well worth the journey. A Panoramic drive over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge connects us to the sparkling aqua waters of the Gulf of Mexico and is truly a GIFT from God to each of us. It is a MUST see for everyone especially at sunset.
Julianna’s birthday request was a family dinner at Columbia to be followed by a walk around St Armands Circle with some SHOPPING MONEY!!!

 Anyway, I got lots a Facebook “Amen’s” from my local friends about the joys of the Columbia and but quite a few e-mails from friends from “afar” who were wondering 
“What is a 1905 Salad?”.

So here goes a little history about the amazing “Columbia” Restaurant”
(BTW, They are on Facebook also, I am a bit surprised that I didn’t hear from them)
The Columbia was founded in 1905 (Hense the name of the Salad (DUH!) in our own Tampa’s famous Ybor City by Casimiro Hernandez Sr. After 25 years of fame and food, Casimiro Jr built the FIRST air conditioned dining room in Tampa complete with an elevated dance floor. (Honestly, it was only right to have some options for exercising all that food off!). They also added their trademark Patio Dining influenced by the courtyard restaurants found in Andalucia, Spain.
One of my favorite things about the decorations of the Columbia is the colorful mosaic tile that is used everywhere including the dishes.
St Armands Circle was the 2nd location for the Columbia, followed by the Historic District of St Augustine, the Pier in St Petersburg, Sand Cay on Clearwater Beach and Celebration in Orlando.
The Columbia has been featured many times in “Southern Living Magazine” and has lots of awards and plaques of appreciation on their walls that proclaim their success.
It is truly a dining as well as a history experience to visit.
Although everything is good, Honey and I pretty much have the same ting every visit–1905 Salad, Spanish Bean Soup and Hot Cuban Bread and butter!
Here is the recipe for 1905 Salad. Someone at the Tampa location shared it with me years ago before the sharing was legal! I have made it many times and it is worth the work. 
If I have not made it clear enough by now, let me just encourage you…..when you come to Florida, find one to visit!! 
It is a dining experience!! 
Just because I am so nice, I won’t even talk about the Butter Pecan Coke Float that I had at Killians Ice Cream on the Circle for dessert (hehe!).
The prize moment of the night was watching every one of my “G’s” all eat freshly made ice cream cones that dripped down their faces. 
It made me slip into a corner and thank God for excuses to gather them all together!!  

All my kids chimed in after this photo was shot….”That one will be on the blog”. 
They know me so well!!

‘1905’ Salad

Salad Ingredients

½ head iceberg lettuce
2 ripe tomatoes, cut in eighths
½ cup Swiss cheese, cut in julienne strips
½ cup ham, cut in julienne strips (or turkey or shrimp)
¼ cup green Spanish olives, pitted
2 teaspoons grated Romano cheese

Salad Dressing Ingredients

1/8 cup white wine vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin Spanish olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons lemon juice


Toss together all salad ingredients in a bowl, except Romano Cheese.

Mix garlic, oregano, and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Beat until smooth with a wire whisk. Add olive oil, gradually beating to form an emulsion. Stir in vinegar and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Add dressing to salad and toss well. Add Romano Cheese and toss one more time. Serves 4!

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  1. Hello Ms. Layton,

    I am the marketing manager for the Columbia Restaurant Group, and we are so happy to read that you and your family had a wonderful meal with us at Columbia St. Armands Circle.

    We agree that spending time with family is priceless. We celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Columbia on St. Armands Circle
    On Sunday, July 19, 2009 with the fourth, fifth and sixth generation of family members who are relatives of the founder of our original restaurant in Tampa, and still own and operate all our restaurants.

    We had invited couples married 50 years or more to celebrate with us also, and we had a lovely day hearing their stories.

    Thank you for choosing the Columbia for your daughter's birthday celebration.


  2. Angela,
    So cool to have you visit "Sweet Tea".
    How did you find this??
    Thank you for taking time to comment. As you can tell, we love The Columbia and will be back many times!!
    Bless you!

  3. Hello Pat,

    We have a google alert set up, it notifies us when any of our Columbia Restaurants are written about in newspapers or blogs.

    We love to share positive comments such as yours with our managment team and employees at our restaurants!


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