Columbia Restaurant's nearly 100-year-old grand piano restored to former glory

Music brought Cesar and Adela Gonzmart together. At 21, he was a violin soloist with the Havana Symphony; she was a Julliard graduate and concert pianist.

Even when the couple took over the Columbia restaurant from Adela's father, the music came right along with them. The 1921 Steinway piano she first played remained at the restaurant for decades.

"It's got a lot of memories," said Richard Gonzmart, the couple's son. "It's played 'Happy Birthday' to thousands of people."

But after Cesar and then Adela passed away, her old piano appeared to be at the end of its life. The keys were damaged, the inner workings tarnished, and the wood heavily damaged by termites.

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Richard looked into getting it restored; even Steinway thought the piano was beyond repair.

"They said, 'Listen, it doesn't make any sense. You could buy a new piano. This would cost you more.' But a new piano doesn't have the memories and wasn't played by my mom," he said.

Richard was determined to bring his mother's piano back to life. His daughter, Andrea Gonzmart Williams, knew her dad would not take no for an answer.

"With my father, he never gives up, so there was not a doubt in my mind for him to do whatever it took to bring it back to what it used to be," she said. "There was not a doubt."

The answer came months later. It was no small task to turn back time, but all of the parts and pieces of the nearly 100-year-old piano were put back together -- good as new.

"I had tears, it's a dream come true that I didn't think would happen," Richard said. "Gave it the original finish, the original colors and new strings, new ivories, etc."

That special piano is now back at the Columbia.

"I know that my mom and my dad will be looking down knowing that they're remembered and loved," he said.