Columbia Restaurant Group Gift Card Sales Lead Efforts To Assist Furloughed Workers

(March 31, 2020) TAMPA, Fla. — The fifth-generation family-owned Columbia Restaurant Group is donating online gift card sales to raise money for its furloughed restaurant workers.

The company furloughed 90 percent of its employees on March 20 following a statewide order by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ending dine-in service at restaurants.

Richard Gonzmart, president and 4th-generation caretaker of the 115-year-old company, immediately took measures to assist furloughed staff members, including selling Columbia Restaurant gift cards online at

For purchases before the end of April, 100 percent of the money will go to the Columbia Restaurant Group Employee Assistance Fund, a pool of money that will be provided to employees at all the company’s brands: Columbia Restaurant, Ulele, Goody Goody and Cha Cha Coconuts.

During the same period, for any purchase of $500 in gift cards, the company is adding another $50 to the buyer’s order.

The direct link for purchasing gift cards:

In addition, Gonzmart pledged to pay full health benefits for all furloughed employees until at least through April.

“The last thing you need to worry about right now is your health coverage,” he wrote to staff members on Monday.

The company also on Monday began providing pre-prepared staff meals for pickup at the Columbia in Ybor. Meals for staff at other locations are planned in coming weeks at restaurant locations in Sarasota, Sand Key in Clearwater, Celebration and St. Augustine. These are for staff only; there’s no public takeout.

Meanwhile, the Gonzmart family is doing everything it can to recover and come back strong.

  • Richard Gonzmart forfeited his salary and returned his ownership check that represented the success the company enjoyed in 2019.
  • Needed maintenance work at the Columbia in Ybor, Ulele and the Columbia in St. Augustine will be done during the closure. No cash is being spent now on these repairs.

“We need to have a business to return to,” Gonzmart wrote to employees. “That’s why our family is making the financial commitments to your units – to get you back to work.

“We will overcome this, as a business, as a city, as a country and as a world,” he said. “And when we do, I think it will be a kinder, gentler place to live. I promise we will celebrate together when we overcome this unprecedented challenge.”


Michael Kilgore
Chief Marketing Officer
[email protected]
813.245.2295 (mobile)