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LEADING QUESTIONS: Foodie rebukes allure of 'Plan B'

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Leading Questions

Welcome to the latest installment of “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” in which IBJ sits down with central Indiana’s top bosses to talk about the habits that lead to success.

We’re continuing our conversation this week with Martha Hoover, 57, and focusing on the business principles that have guided her over 23 years as owner and operator of the Patachou Inc. family of restaurants. The learning curve was intense: Hoover had no practical experience in running a restaurant—or any business, for that matter—as she was hustling to open the original Café Patachou in March 1989.



“The fact that 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, prepared and served,” Hoover said.

Dish Patachou factboxShe immediately struck a chord with from-scratch cooking that emphasized fresh, farm-to-table ingredients long before the concept was chic. She discusses getting the first location off the ground in this week’s installment of IBJ’s video feature “Inside Dish.”

The former attorney for the Marion County Prosecutor’s sex crimes division was determined to make it work. “I’m not a believer in ‘Plan B’; I am a ‘Plan A’ girl all the way,” she said. “My feeling about Plan B is that if you have one, you’re very likely to fall back on it if things don’t work out from the very beginning.”

Today, seven restaurants from downtown Indianapolis to Carmel operate under the Patachou Inc. umbrella, with two more slated to open by the end of 2012 (see inset graphic). Hoover also has aggressive plans to open as many as six new restaurants by 2020, at least in part by venturing outside central Indiana.

In the video above, Hoover discusses the deliberate pace of the group’s growth through its first 23 years, despite offers from deep-pocketed investors who were eager to help lift its profile.

“People want to invest in the company and they are very sincere as to what they can do to grow my business,” Hoover said. “The problem is that they want to grow the business in a way that does not adhere to our vision and our principles. They’d have to dumb down everything we do.  

“What we do is complicated. Making food the right way, with the right ingredients from scratch and getting it to the cafes is a complicated system. Mostly investors see all kinds of way they can cut costs. … This isn’t the cheapest way to do things. But it’s what we consider the only way to do things.”



 

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  • Current Success Research
    Current success research substantiates Hoover's approach. Southwest Airlines, for example, only expanded in four airports one year when 100's asked. KIA CEO has said you can be too big. And dumbing down and cost cutting is where the accountants go. Look at Acapulco Joes---when Joe was still alive they used the best ingredients. The number crunchers running it now basically serve Taco Bell. Yeah, they are still in business but nobody goes there anymore.

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

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