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The Devastating Wrath of Martin Pendergast

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an exclusive collaboration, which is a contradictory description, for which we apologize, between Tampa News Force and The Serving Times, unless we do it again, in which case it’s just the first one)

When one longstanding Tampa restaurant committed the atrocity of inconveniencing a customer with a short wait, they had no idea they had made a powerful enemy and would soon find out that hell hath no fury like the impotent ire of a scorned boomer with too much time on his hands.

Isabella Moreno is a manager at Columbia Restaurant in Tampa’s historic Ybor City. The restaurant, which has stood since 1905 and survived everything named in the song We Didn’t Start the Fire, both the Billy Joel and the Fallout Boy versions, was about to be tested against a formidable enemy of its own creation: a customer named Martin Pendergast.

“I have no idea who you’re talking about,” says Moreno when we first contacted her about the incident. “If you say he was a customer here, I’ll just have to take your word for it. We get too many customers for me to remember just one.”

But after what was coming, the name Martin Pendergast wasn’t one she’d soon forget.

You see, Martin Pendergast and his wife had recently visited Columbia Restaurant and found the reception they received to be quite lacking.

“I made a reservation online,” insists Pendergast, “but when I got there they claimed I had done no such thing!”

“Oh yeah, I think I remember who you’re talking about,” says Amanda Garcia, who was working at the host podium when Pendergast came in. “It was Sunday afternoon and the lunch rush was just starting. There was a forty-five minute wait for a table.”

“Not that long a wait, honestly,” says Pete Winston, a fellow patron who was in the waiting area at the time of the incident. “There’s plenty to do in the area if you don’t want to stay put, but he was demanding a table like right that second.”

“I didn’t see his reservation on our system so I asked to see his confirmation email from OpenTable,” says Garcia, “but all he showed me was the screen where you check your details before you finalize your booking. I told him I was sorry, but we just couldn’t seat him at that time as we were already at capacity.”

Martin Pendergast did not take this news well.

“This is so stupid!” spat Pendergast according to eyewitnesses. “You can plainly see we made the reservation! We drove all the way from Wimauma to come here, and this is how you treat us!?”

For reference, Wimauma (pronounced “why, Mama?”) is a roughly 45 minute drive from Ybor City.

“I couldn’t believe he said ‘Wimauma’!” says Winston. “Like Wimauma!? Really!? My morning dump takes longer than the drive from Wimauma to Tampa! Actually, can you not print that part?”

Garcia tried to salvage the situation as best she could, informing Pendergast that the details of his situation didn’t alleviate the fact that there were no tables available and that it wouldn’t be fair to let him and his wife in ahead of everyone else.

What Garcia didn’t realize is that she had just created a monster, and not the kind of monster Pete Winston apparently needs forty-five minutes to create each morning, presumably at his employer’s expense.

“This is absolutely ridiculous!” shouted Martin. “We’re never coming back to this restaurant, ever!”

As if the threat of losing that coveted Pendergast revenue wasn’t bad enough, Martin was dead set on taking down the whole business for this snub.

“When I get home,” he shouted, “I’m going to tell everyone I know how poorly we were treated here and post what happened on all the socials! That’ll show you!”

“Oh man, that shit was hilarious!” says Winston. “Just about everybody in the foyer busted out laughing! I mean, this restaurant’s been here for something like a hundred and twenty years, I think they’ll be fine.”

True that Columbia Restaurant had weathered many storms in their time, but could they withstand the vengeance of Martin Pendergast?

True to his word, after what we presume was lunch at the Ybor City Burger King and a short drive home to Wimauma, Pendergast penned his review and posted it to Yelp, X formally known as Twitter, and several Facebook groups. Columbia management can take solace in the fact that Pendergast still hasn’t heard of Reddit, BlueSky, or Threads and hasn’t bothered to learn how to “do TikToks”.

Here is an excerpt from a post in a Facebook group called Eating Out Tampa:

Columbia? More like ColDUMBia! Someone there needs to figure out how reservations work and fire the girl working the door! One star! Wish it could be zero! [Editor’s note: There is no rating system on this group, and he could have easily just said “zero stars”]

Needless to say, we are NEVER going back to that restaurant, and we encourage everybody to do the same! That’s right, we’re calling for a TOTAL BOYCOTT of ALL Columbus [sic] Restaurant locations!


It goes on for a few more paragraphs, none of which are terribly relevant, and gets oddly transphobic and pro-Israel towards the end.

The crux of the matter is that the review was out there, and by our estimates it was seen by dozens, maybe even twenties of people, much to the chagrin of Columbia management.

To gauge that chagrin, we stopped in at Columbia Restaurant and spoke with manager Isabella Moreno about the devastating impact of Pendergast’s review. Well, after making us wait a while as the restaurant seemed quite busy.

“Okay, I can really only give you a few minutes,” says a harried Moreno as she joins a Serving Times reporter, who’s already two sangrias deep. “Now what is this about?”

We asked what effect the Martin Pendergast incident has had on business.

“Martin who?” she asks in return, feigning ignorance most likely to save face. “I’m sorry, I don’t know who that is. He was a customer here?”

Obviously, Moreno doesn’t want to admit the devastating toll Pendergast has had on the restaurant, so we play along and explain the incident and its consequences.

“Oh, sweetie,” says Moreno, “we have thousands of reviews on Yelp and see so many customers each day, so I’m not going to remember just one guy, even if he was that upset. I’ll tell you what though, if he’d like to give us another chance, I’d be happy to buy him a drink on his next visit, how’s that?”

It’s laughably naive to think she can buy off the likes of Martin Pendergast with a glass of the house red. We don’t mention that and instead ask what effect the boycott has had on Columbia’s business.

“Boycott?” shouts Moreno over the din of the crowd.

We explain, again unnecessarily, that Pendergast has called for a total boycott of Columbia Restaurant.

“No,” she laughs, “I hadn’t heard anything about a boycott, but I’ll definitely be mindful of that.”

Kind of a flippant attitude for someone about to lose their livelihood, but we ask if the rest of Columbia’s management is just as–

“I’m sorry, sweetie,” Moreno interrupts, “but I really am busy tonight. Like I said, if Matty Pinderwho wants to come in, tell him to ask for Isabella and he and his wife can each have a sangria on me, okay?”

But what about–

“I’m sorry, but I really need to go.”

And with that, she was off, probably to report to her superiors that the restaurant really was screwed and that messing with Martin Pendergast was the biggest mistake in the history of the hospitality industry.

We must have rattled the wrong cages with our questions as we were soon asked to leave after having like three more sangrias and trying to get statements from the rest of the staff, management claiming we were “causing a scene” and being “loud and in everyone’s way”. But were they really just afraid that we would tell the world of how their mismanagement of the Martin Pendergast situation cost Tampa one of it’s most esteemed and beloved restaurants? Probably.

[Editor’s note: Would definitely still recommend Columbia’s sangrias though. Please post to Eating Out Tampa to go try them before the restaurant closes forever]

Suffice to say, the atmosphere at Columbia is palpable as the workers and management alike wait for Martin Pendergast’s other shoe to drop and shutter their workplace forever.


After weeks of trying, we were finally able to get Martin Pendergast to speak to us directly. The key was to leave a comment on one of his Facebook posts that we wanted to talk about the incident at Columbia. He responded within seconds.

After a little prodding, Pendergast agreed to let us accompany him on another trip to Columbia Restaurant to see if maybe he’d be willing to call off his dogs and allow the Tampa landmark to stay in business, as Martin Pendergast’s blessing is all that stood in the way of Columbia and total ruin.

“Wow, I never thought I’d ever come back here,” he says upon entering through the ornate wood door and approaching the host podium.

Amanda Garcia is once again on duty, but shows no sign of recognizing Pendergast.

“Oh, that one there, she remembers me,” says Pendergast. “They’ve probably coached her to not make a big deal about it if I ever came back, not call attention to it, you know?”

We agree and urge him to ask for a table as we just had a long drive from The Serving Times offices in Riverview and are eager to eat. Also we should probably tell him he’s paying.

“Hello, and welcome to Columbia,” says Garcia. “Table for three?”

“Yes,” replies Pendergast.

“Okay, unfortunately right now there’s about an hour wait for a table of three,” says Garcia, obviously baiting Pendergast. “Would you like to have a seat and we’ll call you when your table’s ready?”

“Still playing these games, I see,” chuckles Pendergast. “You’re not going to get me with that again. We have a reservation.”

Garcia, doing an excellent job pretending not to be totally messing with him, checks the computer and informs us there is no reservation under that name. We can only assume she’s doing so because she hates her employer and knows that Pendergast has the absolute power to destroy it completely.

“Oh no no no no,” says Pendergast, “fool me once…. I do have a confirmed reservation this time!”

Pendergast pulls out his phone and opens his Yahoo mail account.

“See!” he says, thrusting his phone towards Garcia’s face. “Right there!”

“Sir,” says Garcia, “this is for Ulele, it’s down on the Riverwalk. If you’d like though, I can put you on the list here….”

As Pendergast’s face turns red, it’s clear that Colombia Restaurant has added insult to injury by refusing to honor a reservation at a competing restaurant. If the beloved, historic restaurant’s fate wasn’t sealed the first time it snubbed Martin Pendergast, it certainly is now.

As Pendergast storms out, once again vowing to destroy the restaurant with his vicious social media attacks, we opt to stay behind as we’ve been looking forward to that sangria all week and this will probably be our last chance to have one.

Matt Starr

About Matt Starr

Matt Starr is a satirist, founder and editor-in-chief of The Pulitzer Prize winning The Serving Times, economist, business visionary, and lyricist. He currently works as a retail merchandiser in Tampa, Florida and has three cats.