It was the end of August, and it was as hot as a smoldering Cuban cigar in Tampa’s Ybor City, (pronounced EE-bore). The heat and the imminent late afternoon rain was the narcotic needed to get my reluctant model in front of my lens.
After Georgia, it was my turn to spend quality time with my family and have the opportunity to show Mel and Gaia my favorite places near my home town in Florida.
Founded in 1905 by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Sr., this small corner café known for its Cuban coffee and authentic Cuban sandwiches, frequented by the local cigar workers is now in it's six generation of family ownership. Casimiro Jr. aspired to take the Columbia beyond its humble beginnings and envisioned an elegant dining room with music and dancing, the likes of which were unheard of in this part of the country at the time. The Columbia Restaurant has seen its share of change, but through its dedication of successive generations of family management, it has persevered as Florida's oldest and world's largest Spanish restaurant.
I was originally inspired by Columbia's architecture, but Melissa's values of quality food, supportive family and originality made me see the Columbia's true magnificence. Mel always helps me see things in a new light, and I was enchanted to capture her in mine.