'Danbury has such a world palette': Mothership owner opens Japanese-Latin restaurant in Hat City

Photo of Kendra Baker
Anna Llamos owner of ItadakiMÀS Restaurant at 317 Main Street, in Danbury, Conn, April 2, 2021. The art work on the wall behind he was painted by her daughter Abigail Llanos.

Anna Llamos owner of ItadakiMÀS Restaurant at 317 Main Street, in Danbury, Conn, April 2, 2021. The art work on the wall behind he was painted by her daughter Abigail Llanos.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

DANBURY — The owner of Mothership Bakery & Café has opened another downtown eatery with an entirely different kind of menu.

Instead of baked goods, sandwiches, salads and coffee, the menu at Anna Llanos’ new restaurant, ItadakiMÁS, features sushirittos and bowls.

The restaurant’s name derives from “Itadakimasu” — a traditional Japanese blessing and statement of gratitude spoken over meals — but also reflects the incorporation of Latin cuisine in the food that’s served.

ItadakiMÁS opened last Tuesday at 317 Main St., inside the roughly 1,600 square-foot space formerly occupied by Subway on the corner of Main and Crosby streets. The brick building’s bottom level had been vacant following the sandwich shop’s closing nearly two years ago.

Llanos said she became interested in the empty space after talking to her landlord and taking a tour of it late last year.

“I walked over there and it was like a light went on,” she said. “I felt like I knew what the place needed to be, and it was an idea I kind of had in my back pocket.”

Llanos said the inspiration for ItadakiMÁS came from a dining experience she had at a sushiritto and bowl restaurant in Washington, D.C.

“I loved it and felt like it’s something we needed in Danbury,” she said.

Llanos said she felt a restaurant that combines Japanese and Latin cuisine would be “perfect” for the city.

ItadakiMÀS Restaurant at 317 Main Street, in Danbury, Conn, April 2, 2021.

ItadakiMÀS Restaurant at 317 Main Street, in Danbury, Conn, April 2, 2021.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

“Danbury has such a world palette,” she said. “It’s like we’re all thrown together, so why not do it in the bowl that you’re eating out of.”

ItadakiMÁS is just steps away from Mothership Bakery & Café, which Llanos and her business partner at the time opened in 2016.

Not only is the food served at ItadakiMÁS different from that served at Mothership, but the ambiance inside the restaurants are different as well.

“It’s drastically different in many ways from Mothership, but it still has a welcoming vibe,” Llanos said.

She described ItadakiMÁS as having “a little younger, hipper and more modern” feel compared to Mothership, which has a “full-on mid-century modern” vibe.

Llanos said anyone looking for a traditional Japanese or Latin meal at ItadakiMÁS will be “disappointed.”

“There's nothing traditional about what we’re doing there,” she said. “We’re using a lot of the same ingredients that sushi is made from, but we’re also using a lot of ingredients that are in Latin cooking.”

Instead of just raw fish, the food at ItadakiMÁS is made with ceviche, Llanos said. In other words, fresh fish is marinated or cooked in lime juice.

“We don’t have a cooking hood and the only cooking devices that we have are rice cookers, so it’s got to be all raw, which is so good for you,” she said.

About four months of renovation work took place before the restaurant’s opening.

“We did a lot of work in there,” Llanos said. “It had been a Subway for like over 50 years or something and it was ripped down to the original 1900s floorboards, which had holes in them. It was a mess.”

Transforming the space took a lot of work, Llanos said, but she’s pleased with the end result.

Llanos said people have told her how much they appreciate having a place like Mothership in Danbury, and she sees ItadakiMÁS as an opportunity to “take the same philosophy that we have at Mothership and do something new downtown that people can be excited about.”

“We feel like Danbury kind of gets the shaft a lot, and we want Danbury to know that we feel that it’s worth investing in,” she said.

ItadakiMÁS is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. The restaurant’s website is itadakimasdanbury.com.