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Richard Gonzmart Honored With Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice Medal
Bestowed By Pope Francis

TAMPA, Fla., April 28, 2016 - Richard Gonzmart, fourth-generation family member and president of the Columbia Restaurant Group, has been honored with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal.

The medal is an award of the Roman Catholic Church. At the recommendation of Father Richard Hermes, S.J., President of Jesuit High School in Tampa and the nomination of Bishop Lynch, Pope Francis bestowed this papal honor on Gonzmart. It is given for distinguished service to the church by lay people and clergy. It is the highest medal that can be awarded to the laity by the pope. Gonzmart received a medal on April 17 at Bethany Center in Lutz, Florida.

He has been a life-long supporter of Catholic education. He attended Sacred Heart Boys’ Academy before graduating from Jesuit High School in 1971. Gonzmart has been a dedicated benefactor to the Academy of the Holy Names, Tampa Catholic High School, St. Peter Claver, Villa Madonna, the newly formed Cristo Rey School and, of course, his alma mater, Jesuit High School.

Gonzmart is known for his charitable works, which have earned him numerous civic and humanitarian awards, including Tampa Civitan’s Citizen of the Year, Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation Community Hero, and a Community Hero by the Boys and Girls Club, to name a few.

Married to Melanie and father of two daughters, the Gonzmart family is closely connected to and supportive of many Catholic causes.

The Columbia Restaurant Group consists of five concepts including Columbia, Ulele, Cha Cha Coconuts, Goody Goody and Café Con Leche Ybor City.

The Columbia was founded in 1905 and is Florida’s Oldest RestaurantSM. Locations include the flagship restaurant in Tampa’s Historic Ybor City, additional locations include St. Armands Circle in Sarasota, the Historic District in St. Augustine, Sand Key on Clearwater Beach, Central Florida's town of Celebration, the Columbia Cafe on the Riverwalk in Tampa and the Columbia Restaurant Cafe at Tampa International Airport. All Columbia locations are owned and operated by 4th and 5th generation members of the founding family; except for Columbia Restaurant Cafe at Tampa International Airport, which is operated in partnership with HMSHost.

Cha Cha Coconuts is a tropical bar and grill that opened in 1989 on St. Armands Circle in Sarasota.

Ulele, the newest member of the Columbia Restaurant Group, opened in 2014 on the Hillsborough River in Tampa Heights.

Goody Goody will open in Tampa’s Hyde Park Village in 2016. Café Con Leche Ybor City is scheduled to open in Tampa International Airport in 2016.

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Media Contact:  Angela Geml at 813-248-3000, ext. 17 or [email protected]