Cantina Louie growing to 6 locations

Jacksonville chain is adding Nocatee, Tinseltown and Regency restaurants.

Partner Ben Porter said the new Cantina Louie restaurants will resemble the Fernandina Beach location.
Partner Ben Porter said the new Cantina Louie restaurants will resemble the Fernandina Beach location.
  • Columnists
  • Mathis Report
  • Share

Owners of the Jacksonville-based Mexican restaurant Cantina Louie intend to double the number of locations as they add a presence in Nocatee, Tinseltown and the Monument Road area.

The Nocatee and Tinseltown restaurants are build-outs or remodels, while the Monument Road location, north of Regency Square Mall, will be new construction.

Owner Benjamin Porter and business partner Luis Cuevas are investing even more in that because they bought 1.76 acres next to Ruby Tuesday along Monument Road at Interstate 295 to build a shopping center to include the Cantina Louie.

ZT Holdings #06 LLC, led by Porter and Cuevas, bought the 1.76 acres from Gate Petroleum Co.

Gate operates a gas station and convenience store nearby and is building a Gate Express Carwash off of Monument Road.

“Monument is extremely busy,” Porter said. 

Porter said his team likes the Monument and I-295 area.

“Growth down Fort Caroline is tremendous so we felt that was a good spot,” he said.

He intends to develop a 10,000-square-foot shopping center with no more than three tenants. The 165-seat Cantina Louie would occupy half of the center and the other one or two tenants would need to be retail or office tenants that didn’t need a lot of parking.

Porter expects it to open in the first quarter 2019.

He estimates the investment at $2.5 million. Styles Construction Inc. will be the contractor and is Cantina Louie’s usual contractor.

Cantina Louie Mexican Street Food describes itself as a “fun, affordable Mexican Cantina serving authentic Mexican street food,” such as tacos, sope, tostadas and tortas.

It serves lunch and dinner.

The menu includes appetizers, nachos, salads, quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos, burritos, fajitas, entrees, desserts, a children’s menu, wine, beer and specialty drinks.

For more information, visit

The partners opened the first Cantina Louie in 2014 in St. Augustine, then Atlantic Beach, whose location is expanding, and then Fernandina Beach.

The Tinseltown location at 9726 Touchton Road, No. 105, is the site of several former restaurants.

Plans show a 4,771-square-foot build-out, along with exterior seating. It will be Cantina Louie’s fourth location.

Porter said his team downsized the previous restaurant’s space, giving space back to the landlord, and will renovate it substantially. He expects a build-out of $300,000 to $350,000 and to open in April.

“We are gutting it and giving it a fresh new look and a different feel,” he said. “We are shrinking it down to where it makes sense.”

He expects Cantina Louie to be successful where others closed. “Our brand works. We have a phenomenal following,” he said.

The Tinseltown location is off Touchton Road and not on the main Southside Boulevard area.

“People find you. In this day and age of social media, they find you,” he said.

The Nocatee location, Cantina Louie’s fifth, is in development in The Shoppes of St. Johns along U.S. 1 near County Road 210 and Race Track Road in St. Johns County and should open in July or August, he said.

“We’ve got a busy year coming up,” Porter said.

Porter said the concept has taken off. “The brand as a whole has been phenomenal,” he said, citing the overall quality, service and build-out.

“We consider ourselves a nice little neighborhood Mexican restaurant,” he said.

The target size is 165 to 170 seats, he said. Most build-outs are $250,000 and up.

All have bars except for St. Augustine, which has a full liquor license.

“The overall business structure works,” Porter said.

He said the team was set for the year. 

They will start looking for other locations starting in the last quarter of the year and might look outside of Northeast Florida.



Special Offer: $5 for 2 Months!

Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning business news.