Ex-UFC champ Tito Ortiz’s new restaurant gets brutal review

Tito Ortiz has a new business venture in his recently adopted home of Cape Coral, FL.

By: Zane Simon | 3 weeks ago
Ex-UFC champ Tito Ortiz’s new restaurant gets brutal review
Tito Ortiz in his new 'Tito's Cantina' restaurant. - Robyn George IMAGO/USA Today

One of the hardest things in an athlete’s life can be figuring out just what the hell to do with themselves once their sporting career is over. Men and women spend decades crafting every ounce of their identity around competition, but what’s left when the competition is over?

Some go into coaching, others become trainers, and many try their hand at the broadcast media side of the sports world as desk analysts and play-by-play announcers. For most, though, retiring from their chosen profession means moving on to something entirely different altogether.

Former UFC champ Tito Ortiz opens ‘Tito’s Cantina’ restaurant

For Tito Ortiz, becoming a restaurateur wasn’t the first stop in his life, post-fighting. The former UFC champion opened his own gym, the “Punishment Training Center” back in 2011 to go along with his Punishment apparel brand. He’s dabbled with pro wrestling, tried his hand at boxing, and took a (very short lived) stab at local politics.

More recently, however, the now 48-year-old Tito Ortiz left his home state of California to take up residence in the retirement city of Cape Coral, FL. To make the move all the more official, the ‘Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ has decided to start a new business venture, ‘Tito’s Cantina.’

“I wish I was able to do this in California, Huntington Beach, but ehh,” Tito Ortiz said in a video posted to his Instagram back in early August. “You get sick of people, really quick there. I miss my family, miss my friends, miss my mom, miss all the support I had there. But here? The support is just amazing. People are really genuine; southern hospitality is amazing. I love it, love being here…

“I do miss home, but I really don’t. What I missed when I was at home, was, I missed America. I think that’s why I’m here, because Cape Coral made me love America again.”

Over Labor Day weekend, Tito Ortiz announced a ‘soft opening’ for his new restaurant. In another video uploaded to social media, he proclaimed the first night a big success, but there were a few slight suggestions that not everything went perfectly.

“We had an amazing night, soft opening,” Ortiz stated. “Please be patient, we’re going to make this work… Tomorrow we’re doing it again. But, it’s a soft opening, everyone. So, everybody, don’t rush the door at once, as they did today. We’re going to work, we’re going to make it happen.”

Irate customer shares rough night at Tito Ortiz’s restaurant

So what was it that Tito Ortiz wasn’t saying in his messages trumpeting the restaurant’s success? One customer took to Facebook to give their version of the opening weekend experience, noting an hour-long wait, a severely limited menu, and a nearly inedible meal:

Apparently they failed to plan accordingly, ran out of food yesterday and didn’t have much for today, however the beer was nice and cold.

After waiting an hour to get seated, we were given paper menus as opposed to the online menu we already studied and were prepared to order from. They had an hour to tell us it was a different menu, a small menu, a really shitty menu, but they didn’t say a damn word to anyone of the many people waiting to get in for dinner.

There was not much choice for anything decent. Bryson and I ordered what we thought were carne asada tacos. Jen ordered pork tacos. They were all supposed to come with sides of beans and rice.

I asked the waitress what the “T-Mac” title meant for the steak tacos and she said it’s a sauce they squirt on the tacos. It’s like a Big Mac sauce.”I asked the waitress what the “T-Mac” title meant for the steak tacos and she said it’s a sauce they squirt on the tacos. It’s like a Big Mac sauce.

The food came out quick and Jen’s Poco Loco Carnita (pork) tacos looked good. The menu said “Local Blue Corn Tortillas”, but they appeared to be dyed a bluish color. I thought they tasted good. Jen, not so much.

My “T-Mac” tacos were AWFUL. It was a smashed hamburger bun top with a couple small pieces of mystery meat, onion, lettuce and the copycat Big Mac sauce the waitress had mentioned. What a major disappointment! Bryson had the same thing as me and he was as disappointed as I was. Rice and beans were supposed to come out with all the meals, but did not. They ran out of rice and once we got all the beans they were some of the worst beans any of the three of us have ever tasted. Jen thought they tasted like lime, I thought they tasted like mint and Bryson thought they tasted like shit.

What a major disappointment it was. We got the check, paid it and the waitress still got her tip. None of what was going wrong was her fault.

I know they’re new and they will get better, they’re regular menu looked really good, but a failure to plan is planning to fail.

I don’t care if it’s Tito Ortiz. If you can’t fill the cupboards and coolers with food and supplies, you have no business being in the restaurant business.

The customer also included several photos from their meal, including what was very much, in fact, a smashed hamburger bun dressed up like an asada taco. And, of course, the infamous side of beans.

To be fair to Tito Ortiz, the restaurant business is an especially brutal one, with a high rate of failure. Hopefully Tito’s Cantina can keep a few more customers happy and avoid going the route of Johny Hendricks’ Bigg Rigg Steakhouse or BJ Penn’s Fish & Poi Co.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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