I guess I take after both my grandfather and father.
As with them, a lot of Don Quixote lives within me. It echoes in many of the choices we make in our business even as we create new memories and new history. As a fourth generation member of the world-famous restaurant's founding family, Richard Gonzmart grew up in the business.
Part of The Columbia Restaurant Group, the eatery and park has reenergized and built renewed pride in Tampa Heights. He took a job with the Florida Brewery based there. He told my grandfather that too many families depended on him, those that worked for him and the families that he fed, even though they did not have the money to pay.
It is just four blocks away from where my grandparents, mother and brother lived on 7th and Central Avenue. Through dedication and hard work, he became general manager of the brewery. inherited large debts and a business that had to reinvent itself since a large part of the Cafe's income came from the sale of beer and liquor, now illegal. He told his best friend and employee Gregorio Martinez that he might be forced to close the cafe. Through that generous act of faith, the Columbia remained open.
built the Patio dining room, complete with a retracting skylight so patrons could enjoy and dine in the fresh air and under the stars.
Until recently an assistant manager at Ulele, Stella previously served as general manager or assistant general manager at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts in Orlando managing multiple outlets, including Todd English’s bluezoo, Shula’s Steak House and the Cabana Bar and Beach Club.
Expect intricately flavored, visually appealing dishes prepared on the 10' diameter barbacoa grill. Ulele is a native-inspired restaurant and brewery, using fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and other proteins from Florida when they are available, just as my ancestors did.
Open since August 2014, Ulele sits on the banks of the Hillsborough River next to the Ulele Spring..
Under Richard's direction, The Columbia has expanded from two locations to seven.
He has said he hopes the new Ulele concept will be his legacy.
It is adjacent to the Water Works Park, which has been transformed into a family-friendly park thanks to our Tampa Mayor and City Council.