2011 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Martha Hoover

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

President, Patachou Inc.

Sphere of influence: Against all odds, she has built a thriving group of restaurants that have transformed the local dining landscape by emphasizing fresh, local ingredients and careful preparation. Both Hoover and her company are strong supporters of a variety of local charities.

Patachou Inc. is the unlikeliest of success stories. Martha Hoover launched her business in an industry with a notoriously high failure rate despite the fact that she had absolutely no restaurant or business experience and was raising two preschoolers, with another baby on the way.

Fast-forward 22 years: Hoover heads a restaurant group that has eight locations, with two more slated to open in early 2012.

Her ignorance paid off, she said.

hoover-martha01-15col.jpg (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

“The fact I didn’t have restaurant experience ended up to be one of the best things ever, because I was not trapped or held back by the norm of the day, in terms of how food was being delivered and prepared and served,” said Hoover, 57.

She described that norm as “ugly.” In 1989, restaurants were, in her opinion, at their low point in terms of the quality of the food and its preparation. She loved cooking simple food from scratch with fresh, local ingredients. She thought other people might appreciate the approach as well, and thereby started a sea change in the local dining scene.

“We were doing farm-to-table food before ‘farm-to-table’ was even a phrase that was being used,” Hoover said.

The original Café Patachou at 49th and Pennsylvania streets soon had lines out the door on a regular basis. It was followed by other Café Patachou locations and then by Petite Chou and Napolese. Hoover plans to launch a new concept, “Public Greens,” in Broad Ripple next year.

The restaurants have won many local awards, as well as getting attention from publications ranging from The Washington Post to The Denver Post.

Patachou Inc. is active philanthropically. The company will sponsor a Teach for America high school teacher in Indianapolis for the next three years. It also is a regular supporter of the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana and St. Mary’s Child Center.

Hoover was a founding board member of Impact 100 Greater Indianapolis, a women’s giving circle that makes at least $100,000 in grants each year. She also is a member of the United Way’s Tocqueville Society for top donors and has served on the boards of the Indiana Aids Network and Dance Kaleidoscope.

When she looks back on the struggles of starting her business, Hoover recalls one of the original Nike “rules”: “It’s not going to be pretty.”

“The process of creating a business is not pretty, but there are moments that are glorious,” Hoover said. Her advice to her daughters and other young woman is not to be afraid of hard work.

Before trying her hand at entrepreneurship, Hoover was an attorney in the Marion County Prosecutor’s sex crimes division. She holds undergraduate and law degrees from Indiana University.

She was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., but has lived in Indianapolis since she was 9. She and her husband, John, have three children: Sarah, 27; Rachel, 25; and David, 22, all of whom have worked in the family restaurants. Hoover hopes that Rachel, who is finishing a master’s in gastronomy in Italy, will be sharing her expertise at Patachou before long.

Hoover also has two dogs, a Maltese and a mix, which she considers to be additional children, and 2 “grand-dogs.” “We’re a dog family,” she explained.

She said she enjoys yoga, bike riding and traveling, but that “eating is my favorite thing in the whole wide world.”•


Click here to return to the Women of Influence landing page.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am also a "vet" of several Cirque shows and this one left me flat. It didn't have the amount of acrobatic stunts as the others that I have seen. I am still glad that I went to it and look forward to the next one but I put Varekai as my least favorite.

  2. Looking at the two companies - in spite of their relative size to one another -- Ricker's image is (by all accounts) pretty solid and reputable. Their locations are clean, employees are friendly and the products they offer are reasonably priced. By contrast, BP locations are all over the place and their reputation is poor, especially when you consider this is the same "company" whose disastrous oil spill and their response was nothing short of irresponsible should tell you a lot. The fact you also have people who are experienced in franchising saying their system/strategy is flawed is a good indication that another "spill" has occurred and it's the AM-PM/Ricker's customers/company that are having to deal with it.

  3. Daniel Lilly - Glad to hear about your points and miles. Enjoy Wisconsin and Illinois. You don't care one whit about financial discipline, which is why you will blast the "GOP". Classic liberalism.

  4. Isn't the real reason the terrain? The planners under-estimated the undulating terrain, sink holes, karst features, etc. This portion of the route was flawed from the beginning.

  5. You thought no Indy was bad, how's no fans working out for you? THe IRl No direct competition and still no fans. Hey George Family, spend another billion dollars, that will fix it.