COLCHESTER — There’s a new take-out only restaurant in Colchester, and it’s a one-woman operation serving Cuban food.
Miami Mami opened in February and features fried plantains, flan and other cuban food. The owner, Holly Anagnos, also takes requests for custom orders.
Her cultural background influences the food she makes, Anagnos said.
“I’m from Miami and when I lived here there wasn't any cuban food anywhere, so I had to make some for myself,” she said. “I usually cook for people anyway, and then I got laid off as a professional writer because of COVID.”
She realized her hobby of cooking could turn into a business, she said.
“I thought, ‘why not make a take-out place with food no one else makes?’ I was just going to make it for people around here, but it just took off like wildfire,” she said.
As Anagnos’ business has grown, it has also had to adapt to changing circumstances.
“It’s been a process of troubleshooting,” she said. “I try to identify the bottlenecks during the service, and I try to find ways to iron them out.”
Anagnos gave examples of things she has had to change to keep her business going.
“I figured out that my building is so old the fuses don’t work, so I put a grill in the backyard,” she said. “Then I realized I didn’t have enough counter space and I got a really long table.”
Although Anagnos works mostly by herself, she has two assistants that come in to help prep on Fridays and two ladies that work as cleaners for her.
Popular menu items at Miami Mami include ropa vieja, a spicy tasting dish of shredded beef and vegetables, and fried plantains.
“There was a lady who was pregnant who called one day and bought all the plantains I had,” Anagnos said.
The restaurant is named Miami Mami as a reflection of Anagnos cultural heritage.
“I was trying to think of a happy and upbeat name, and I think of myself as the Miami mami in Vermont and I thought that would be cute,” she said.
Miami Mami is following COVID protocols by washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks, Anagnos said.
“When I was talking to the lady from the Department of Health, she said just to keep doing what I’m doing and use bleach cleaner, so I’ve been doing that,” she said.
Anagnos learned to cook from her mother and grandmother, who cooked dishes from a variety of cuisines, when she lived in Miami.
“Everyone from Miami is from different places, so it's normal to eat different food from different cultures,” she said.
While Anagnos has no formal cooking school background, she still studies other chefs for inspiration.
“Sometimes when I don't know how to make something, I do a lot of research. I usually start by studying different chefs,” she said.
Cooking is an art, but you also have to consider what people want, she said.
“I’m a creative person, all the skills I used in writing as a child I use now,” she said. “I’m making creative things but also considering what people want, you have to balance that.”
Miami Mami is open 4-9 p.m. Friday to Sunday and is located on Johnson Avenue in Colchester. Order online at miamimamivt.com or by calling 802-309-2476. Cash, Venmo and Paypal are acceptable forms of payment.
Correction 5/21/21 8:30 p.m.: Holly Anagnos' name was previously spelled Anagos. She used to be a professional writer, not a waiter as stated earlier.