New owner of Takanami might be Iowa City’s youngest restaurateur

  • 187

Valentina Carrero is the new owner of Takanami restaurant at 219 Iowa Ave. in downtown Iowa City — photo by Frankie Schneckloth

Recent University of Iowa graduate, Valentina Carrero, 22, is Iowa City’s newest — and maybe youngest — restaurateur. Just after graduation ceremonies wrapped, Carrero inked the deal with Etre Restaurant Group to purchase downtown Iowa City sushi restaurant, Takanami.

The recent Iowa alum figured she would be a social worker after she finished school in May, but when previous owner George Etre proposed the idea of the sale, it was an opportunity Carrero couldn’t pass up. Throughout her college career, Carrero worked for the Etres as a manager at three of their downtown restaurants — Takanami, el Patrón and Formosa — learning the ins-and-outs of restaurant life, even training with chefs over the last year to learn to make sushi.

The Iowa Avenue restaurant was formerly owned by brothers George and David Etre. As of May 29, 2018 Takanami is officially under Carrero’s leadership, though George continues to lend a helping hand as needed as Carrero begins her new role.

“George has basically been my mentor for the past few years. He still comes around and helps with minor things, but now it’s basically just me. He really wants to see young people in the game and see something fresh, something different,” Carrero said.

No major staffing changes were made following the sale, however Carrero did make a few other changes in her first few days that customers may or may not have observed.

“I changed the menu right when I took over; I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but we changed the happy hour, the food menu, the drink menu; the specials are all different and I added some rolls and entrees,” explained Carrero.

In addition to menu changes, Carrero has removed the teppan tables from the back room of the restaurant in hopes of refurnishing the space to function as a bar and lounge. With a separate entrance, the lounge will open after the restaurant closes at 10 p.m. and will serve Japanese whiskies, cocktails and local beers until bar close at 2 a.m.

The lounge bar will open to the public on July 13, but until then, diners can get their fill on fresh sushi, entrees and drinks in the restaurant’s original dining room.

  • 187
Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV »



Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

Don’t let other people’s opinions win.

Vote for your favorite people, places and events in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area! In a time when local businesses need our support more than ever, your vote will send a little love to the places that make our community special. And don’t forget to tell us why—the best comments will be published in our December Best of the CRANDIC 2021 issue! Voting ends September 30.

Read the Best of the CRANDIC issue, on stands now

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.


$10/mo or $120/year
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.


$20/mo or $240/year
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.


$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW) connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.