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ISBM – Casimiro Jr.’s only child, Adela, was a concert pianist who gave regular piano performances at Columbia. Later, Adela married concert violinist, Cesar Gonzmart (Cesar).

Essential of Management


CASE STUDY (20 Marks)

Casimiro Jr.’s only child, Adela, was a concert pianist who gave regular piano performances at Columbia. Later, Adela married concert violinist, Cesar Gonzmart (Cesar). In the 1950s, Casimiro Jr. brought Cesar into the business. Subsequently, Cesar and Adela became the third-generation owners/operators. Adela and Cesar struggled to keep Columbia open during the 1950s and 1960s. This was a period during which Ybor City deteriorated due to a decline in the cigar industry. The poor economic prospects of the city led to a subsequent fall in population as people moved away to the suburbs and other cities. Over the years, Columbia restaurants were opened at several other new locations in Florida. In 1983, a restaurant was opened in the historic district of St. Augustine, Florida. At Sand Key, on Clearwater Beach, Florida, another restaurant was opened in 1989. In the 1980s, Columbia also opened a few Caribbean med bars and restaurants under the brand ‘Cha Cha Coconuts’. After the death of Cesar in 1992, both brothers began to manage the day-to-day operations at the restaurant. They then became the fourth generation owners/operators. However, it was not all smooth sailing for the business. After taking over the business, the brothers discovered that Columbia was under a large debt, something that had been concealed by Cesar. The debt had the potential to threaten the very existence of Columbia. Gonzmart said, “Cesar would provide whatever numbers he wanted. None of the bankers believed it, but it was a different world, handshakes, etc. Instead of going in for an expansion, Columbia decided to invest in existing restaurants. In 2001, a new building was constructed to house a five thousand square feet kitchen for the Ybor City restaurant for US$ 2 million. It was built in a parking lot/delivery area on the south side of the restaurant. The new kitchen had a unique waste disposal system, water recycling capability, and quick chill technologies, which were expected to minimize labor and utility costs, as well as theft and shrinkage. Some of the valuable lessons learned by the Hernandez-Gonzmart family to successfully run the business were to maintain the traditional style and atmosphere, to keep the menu fluid, and to cultivate a personalized management style. Though the HernandezGonzmart family tried hard to keep up to date, they knew that a major part of the restaurant’s appeal was its age. All Columbia restaurants were designed to project an old-world atmosphere through extensive usage of colorful arabesque Spanish tiles on the walls. Moreover, framed photos of previous generations were displayed prominently. The restaurant also paid very close attention to the menu layout. Columbia continued to be a completely family-owned venture. Over the years, Gonzmart and Casey decided to let go of prominently displaying fancy titles for family members working in Columbia. While the brothers’ business cards read ‘Fourth Generation’, their children\’s visiting cards read ‘Fifth Generation’. Speaking about the new business cards, Gonzmart added, “We take pride in these titles; not many companies can make the same claim. Besides, it creates issues when you give family members titles.” In 2010, the Columbia was mentioned in a list of 50 ‘All-American Icon restaurants’, compiled by the leading restaurant trade magazine, ‘Nation’s Restaurant News’. According to the magazine, the restaurants on the list highlighted ‘longtime concepts that are not only intriguing, but also offer a broad representation of industry segments, foods, and locales’. As of 2012, six restaurants across Florida and two Cha Cha Coconuts outlets were owned and operated by the family. According to Gonzmart, 2012 was the best year in Columbia’s history. He

added, “During the slow economy, the last five years, we’re up same-store sales, I think 26 percent. No price increases.”

Answer the following question.


Q1. Debate the succession strategy adopted by Columbia.


Q2. How the traditional style and atmosphere was maintained by the HernandezGonzmart family and why?


Q3. Debate the reasons for Columbia being under a large debt.


Q4. Discuss how the family business was sustained and revived.


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