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Columbia Restaurant a 107-year-old landmark in Tampa's Ybor City

By Karin Mallett, Anchor / Reporter, KMallett@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 29 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 30 2012 05:32:35 PM CDT

It can be an exhausting week for delegates which is why they do get some down time - to take in the sights and before this convention got underway - we took some time out for a One Tank Trip: Convention Style.

TAMPA -

It can be an exhausting week for delegates, which is why they do get some down time to take in the sights.

Before the Republican National Convention got underway in Tampa, we took some time out to visit the Columbia Restaurant in Tampa's Ybor City neighborhood and a One Tank Trip: Convention Style.

The official sandwich of Tampa is the Cuban, but not just any Cuban sandwich will make the cut.

"The Cuban sandwich has to be made on Tampa-made Cuban bread," said Casey Gonzmart, a fourth generation co-owner of the Columbia.

Here's what's in between: ham, roast pork, Italian salami, Swiss cheese, pickles and yellow mustard.

"In that order, no other order, and then cut along diagonally, served either here at the Columbia, or many people take them home to go," said Gonzmart.

The Columbia, in historic Ybor City, is Florida's oldest restaurant. Established in 1905 by Casey Gonzmart's great-grandfather, it started as a small corner cafe serving factory workers.

"We're one of only 15 families in the country to still be operating the same restaurant in the same location for over 100 years," said Gonzmart.

The Columbia now occupies 52,000 square feet, an entire city block, but somehow still retains an intimate charm.

All week, it's played host to governors, representatives and delegates while continuing to keep the locals happy.

"I think it's a great feather in the cap for a city like Tampa. The biggest event ever to occur in my lifetime, probably in anyone's lifetime in Tampa," said Gonzmart. "It hasn't really hit us. Call me in about two weeks and I'll tell you how we did."

Truly some of the best food we've ever had.