The patriarch of our family, Manuel Garcia Sr., came over from Spain in 1900 and landed in Tampa, Florida’s Ybor City. At the age of seventeen, he went to work in a cigar factory. He saved his money for 5 years in order to open a small sandwich shop called, “La Fonda.” Thus began the “Garcia” restaurant legacy.
During the 1920’s, Manuel partnered with the owners of The Columbia Bar, which was about to go out of business due to the new prohibition laws. With this partnership, the famous Columbia Restaurant was created. The partnership continued until 1939 when Manuel sold his interest in the Columbia. He and his son, Manuel Jr., bought an existing Spanish restaurant just down the street from The Columbia called, “Las Novedades”; the name translated means “the novelties.”
Las Novedades was the oldest restaurant in Ybor City—founded in 1890. Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders rode through Ybor City and had lunch at Las Novedades. The villagers that lived in Ybor City at that time called the incident, “Charge of the yellow rice brigade.”
Under Manuel Sr. and Manuel Jr., Las Novedades was the first restaurant in Florida to be honored with national awards for excellence. Four generations later, the Garcia family legacy continues with City Fire American Oven & Bar.