STRATFORD, Conn. — Mayra Cabrera is taking a “take an empanada, leave an empanada” approach to Cibus Latin Fusion, the new restaurant she opened recently on Woodend Road.
Customers who have a little extra cash on hand can pay it forward, buying an extra snack or entree and leaving a ticket for it on a column near the cashier’s station. Those who might be a little strapped for cash can take the ticket and enjoy a free meal.
“I’ve heard about places doing that in Europe and I liked the idea,” said Cabrera, who hails from Ecuador originally. “A lot of people don’t have a lot of money. This is for everybody.”
Cabrera, who moved to Stratford from New York City six years ago, said she's spent three years working to open Cibus, a hip and welcoming space on a busy corner. She felt a real need in the community for the vibrant flavors of Central and South America.
“I thought, ‘how come this town doesn’t have Latin food?’” said Cabrera, who previously worked in interior design.
It certainly does now. The menu at Cibus — which means food in Latin — features everything from citrus-spiked ceviche to hearty churrasco, beef steak served with rice, fried eggs, avocado and sweet plaintain.
Salads include avocado, potato and chicken and smaller plates feature tacos, plantains with cheese and the French fries-and-sausage combo called salchipapas.
Knowing Stratford boasts a diverse socio-economic population, Cabrera said she always keeps an eye on the bottom line for her customers. Piping hot empanadas are just $1.50 each and a whole rotisserie chicken with two sides is available for $15.
“I’ve had kids come in here and pay with change,” Cabrera said. “They’re so excited they can come in here and get something.”
On Friday, Mayor John Harkins and Mary Dean, executive director of the Stratford Chamber of Commerce, helped welcome Cibus to the neighborhood with a day-long celebration and ribbon-cutting.
“I feel like Mayra has brought a little bit of her New York neighborhood to Stratford,” Dean said. “That’s what we are here — an ethnic community.
“And you just love a restaurant that gives back to the community.”
Cibus, at 1 Woodend Road, is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the weekends. For more information, visit the website .