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Patachou owner's pizzeria receives variance approval

November 24, 2009

Cafe Patachou owner Martha Hoover can now move forward with plans to open a pizzeria next to her trademark eatery at 49th and Pennsylvania streets in Indianapolis.

The Board of Zoning Appeals voted 5-0 Tuesday afternoon to grant variances critical to Hoover’s new venture, called Napolese, that should be open by early February.

Hoover needed the variances to include an outdoor seating area for her pizzeria and because the plans include fewer on-site parking spaces than typically required.

“Without the variances being approved, it would have been very devastating to our business and the corner,” Hoover told IBJ. “That corner needs a lot of infusion right now.”

Hoover is leasing 1,200 square feet next to her original Cafe Patachou restaurant from the new owners of the Hamaker Building. The local investors, led by Bryan Chandler of Eclipse Real Estate and Greg Rankin and John Bales of Venture Cos., paid $1.5 million in December for the 12,000-square-foot building.
 
The group bought the building from Judith C. Kaczmarski and her husband, George, who owned the former Hamaker Pharmacy.

About 75 supporters backing Hoover and sporting Patachou stickers across their chests erupted in applause after the board approved the variances.

A handful of opponents, however, voiced reservations that the pizzeria and outdoor seating area would lead to increased traffic in the neighborhood, posing safety concerns.

They said they do not oppose redevelopment in the area, as long as adequate parking is available, said Clark Kahlo, who lives about four blocks from the project. 

“This is a size 10 foot trying to get into a size 8 shoe,” he said in remarks at the hearing. “This parking is a big deal. If you go there at any time of the day, it’s busy.”

But the city’s Division of Planning, which recommended approving the variances, said parking concerns likely would be alleviated by neighborhood residents walking or biking to the restaurant. Bicycle racks will be placed in the area to encourage that practice.

“Something like this is an urban planner’s dream, because it provides a number of amenities that people can walk to, bike to and drive to,” said Cameron Clark, an attorney representing Hoover and Chandler. 

Napolese will feature traditional, Neapolitan-style pizza. Neapolitan-style pizza originated in Naples, Italy, and is distinguishable from other types by its bread-like crust and unique texture.

Hoover faces one more obstacle in her plans for Napolese. The Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission is scheduled to hear her request Dec. 7 for a license to sell beer and wine. Hoover said she expects the same opponents who campaigned against the variances to challenge the alcohol license as well. 

Hoover’s Napolese would be the second restaurant she's opened within a year. In March, she launched her second French-themed Petite Chou, at the upscale Clay Terrace shopping center in Carmel. The other is on Westfield Boulevard in Broad Ripple.

Hoover opened her first Cafe Patachou—at 49th and Pennsylvania streets—20 years ago. She has since opened four others: in Simon Property Group’s downtown headquarters, at the Indianapolis International Airport’s civic plaza, at River Crossing near 86th and Keystone Avenue, and at 126th Street and Gray Road in Carmel.
 

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