The Mothership has long been one of the best-kept secrets in Danbury. Housed in a cafeteria within a Danbury office building on Old Ridgebury Road, it was only open during weekdays and was difficult to get to for those who didn’t work nearby. When my wife first texted me directions, they read like instructions for a CIA drop: “Turn right at the fountain, walk through the unmarked entrance then keep to the right …”
But the made-from-scratch quality of the food — elite baked goods and great breakfast and lunch sandwiches — made seeking out this “secret” spot worth the extra effort. But’s that’s no longer necessary, as the Mothership has turned off its cloaking device.
Mothership on Main
331 Main St., Danbury
Hours: Mon. closed, Tue.-Fri. 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
In late November, its new, much-easier-to-find location touched down in a prominent building in downtown Danbury. Called Mothership on Main, it features extended hours including weekends and the same homemade-style food that attracted many, including myself, to its original location.
Mothership on Main occupies a classic Danbury building. Originally a gas station built in an Art Deco style in 1931, the buildinghas a circular awning and a throwback circular sign in the front that lights up. For a long time it housed a dry-cleaning business, but has been vacant more often than not in recent years.
Inside is a large space with a full coffee bar, ample seating and a few couches. The order-at-the-counter establishment conveys a coffeehouse vibe, and free Wi-Fi is offered for those of us who sometimes telecommute. There is also a full espresso bar and organic coffee and tea from local producers.
The baked goods have a made-by-mom or -grandmom quality, only in some cases, better. Boasting an excellent cookie selection, the chocolate chip variety stands out. Also worth trying are the sweet scones that come in a variety of flavors, as well as the pies, which are served by the slice when available. The full pies, which have to be ordered in advance, are a Mothership signature and wowed the entire Connecticut Magazine staff when we were researching October’s best pies feature.
All the flour-based items share a great taste that carries over into the sandwich portion of the menu, which succeeds first and foremost thanks to the high quality of the housemade bread. “Our menu is really built around our breads,” says co-owner Andrea White. “We bake them each day, don’t use any preservatives or artificial ingredients. Those are practices that many other bakeries have moved away from; it is not the most cost-efficient way to bake. But it produces the best results.”
During a recent visit at lunchtime, I tried and enjoyed the grilled chicken tenderloin with homemade pesto aioli, provolone, lettuce and tomato on ciabatta, as well as the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with chipotle mayo, also on ciabatta. The latter was one of the best BLTs I’ve had. Mothership also offers a variety of soups and salads.
Danbury’s mayor, Mark Boughton, has voiced support for the cafe, and there is hope that the popular new business can help ramp up revitalization efforts in downtown Danbury.
The business is owned by White and Anna Llanos, with Llanos serving as the culinary mastermind and hands-on chef, and White handling more of the business end of things. It all started in 2012 in a silver Airstream trailer, the original “mothership.” Shortly thereafter they expanded to the cafeteria location on Ridgebury Road. That location will remain open, but Mothership on Main seems to have become the company’s flagship spot.
White explains they had been looking for an additional location for a while. “We wanted a standalone building, something that we could create a home-like atmosphere for the customers who would come in. Honestly, we had not considered downtown Danbury, because we just were not sure that would be the right fit for us. But when the owners of 331 Main St. approached us, we fell in love with not only the building, but the idea of being part of an area that is experiencing a revitalization.”
New visitors hearing the name Mothership and seeing the somewhat funky exterior of the Main Street location might expect an interior with a psychedelic-science fiction aesthetic. This is a far cry from what’s waiting inside. Emphasize the word “mother” in your mind and you get a better idea of what the spot is all about. In fact, visiting the mothership can be a little like visiting a few of your aunts around the holidays — there are a lot of friendly, smiling faces and everyone is trying to feed you delicious food.