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Cuban American dream born in Ybor City

by The 100 Companies

Columbia Restaurant, the oldest eatery in Florida, was founded by a Cuban immigrant who arrived in Ybor City with his wife and four sons around 1900. Casimiro Hernandez, Sr. took a job at the Florida Brewery and soon opened a saloon to sell its beer.

In 1905, the Columbia Saloon became the Columbia Restaurant and the rest is history – the establishment expanded from a corner café to 15 dining rooms and 1,700 seats, plus seven locations throughout Florida serving classics like Spanish bean soup, Cuban sandwiches and arroz con pollo. Hernandez’s descendants still run what’s now the world’s largest Spanish restaurant.

– Eve Lederman, The 100 Companies

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