The Red Room
When he expanded the restaurant in 1935, Columbia’s second-generation owner Casimiro Hernandez, Jr., identified with Don Quixote, the hopeless dreamer.
In the late 1940s, Casimiro remodeled the kitchen to accommodate the increased volume in the kitchen.
The renovations also included an updated ladies’ room and the new Don Quixote lounge. Beginning in October 1948, Casimiro began work on a new lounge in what used to be a storeroom near the Don Quixote Room. Patrons waiting for open tables could toss back drinks just outside the dining room. Illuminated photographs of famous Florida scenes glowed from niches in the walls. An artist painted the Columbia’s ship on the front of the bar, punctuated with chrome nails.
The surge in business in the 1940s and 1950s demanded new adaptations at the restaurant. The new bar annex to the Don Quixote Room allowed customers to enjoy cocktails while they awaited tables.
The room was redecorated in the 1960s after the Columbia won a prestigious fine dining award from Holiday magazine. The trip to collect the award brought the third generation to Ernie’s Restaurant in San Francisco, which had its distinctive red wallpaper depicted in the 1958 Albert Hitchcock film, “Vertigo.” Inspired by the wine-colored walls, the Don Quixote Lounge became the Red Lounge decorated with similar wallpaper and, later, simply the Red Room.
It is used for daily lunch and dinner seating as well as for private functions.