Houck Named VP Of Marketing And Public Relations At Columbia Restaurant Group


TAMPA, Fla., April 20, 2022 —

Jeff Houck has been named Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at the family-owned Columbia Restaurant Group

In his new role, Houck oversees all marketing and PR functions, for the Columbia as well as Ulele, Goody Goody, Cha Cha Coconuts, Casa Santo Stefano and Café Con Leche Ybor City. He and the marketing team coordinate branding, social media, PR, reputation monitoring and customer experiences.

“Jeff has been such an amazing asset since he started with us in 2015,” said Richard Gonzmart, 4th generation “caretaker” and president of the iconic Columbia and its associated brands. “He knows food, restaurants, storytelling, technology and customer service, which makes him the perfect person for this position. Additionally, he worked side by side for seven years with Michael Kilgore, our recently retired CMO who remains as a consultant for our family business.”

Houck said it is a tremendous honor to share five generations of family stories and history while building for the future.

"We are caretakers passing through, but we do so with the goal of making the customer experience better than it was before we came,” Houck said. “I look forward to meeting that challenge."

Before the Columbia, Houck worked for 25 years an editor, reporter, blogger and podcaster for print media as well as for FoxSports.com. A former member of the James Beard Foundation restaurant and chef awards committee, he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1998.

Celebrating its 117th anniversary, the original Columbia Restaurant was founded in Tampa’s Historic Ybor City in 1905 by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Sr., and is Florida’s oldest restaurant. All Columbia locations are owned and operated by 4th and 5th generation members of the founding family, except for the Columbia Restaurant Cafe at Tampa International Airport, which is operated in partnership with HMSHost.

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