Touch-ups for Tampa's oldest restaurant - FOX 13 News

Touch-ups for Tampa's oldest restaurant

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The Columbia restaurant is known for its Spanish decor, rich cultural heritage, and good food. But what they're restoring outside the famous eatery is "What's Right With Tampa Bay."

It is delicate work only accomplished by someone who knows what they are doing and has the patience to do it.

"It's very detailed work. It's not tenacious, but it is very detailed, so it doesn't go very quickly," artist Judith Villavisanis said.

And it must be perfect for Tampa's oldest and perhaps most well-known restaurant: the 107-year-old Columbia Restaurant in historic Ybor City. Villavisanis was chosen by the Gonzmart family to restore these bright tiles to their original condition. They have been damaged by all the trucks traveling in and out of the Port of Tampa, and Judith wants to get them just right.

"There was so much history behind it, and I'm a native. My dad was born in Ybor City, so it's got a history and you know, I'm glad I was able to do it," she says.

Richard Gonzmart says his father found the tiles many years ago and wanted them placed on the Columbia to show Tampa's history.

"This is a taste, this is a flavor, this is a piece of Columbia restaurant history of Ybor history," Villavisanis said.

So Judith works as the trucks go by, bringing this historic restaurant back to the way it looked many years ago... a task she cherishes....

"The satisfaction is knowing that when I come to Ybor, when I drive by when I come to Ybor I see a wall that is restored and looks exactly like it did when it was first put in," Villavisanis said.


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