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Patachou owner speaks on building her brand 

click to enlarge Martha Hoover and Christina Pippen answer questions following Hoover's talk. - LEEANN DOERFLEIN
  • Martha Hoover and Christina Pippen answer questions following Hoover's talk.
  • Leeann Doerflein
Local restaurateur Martha Hoover spoke about her brand, her path to success and the future of her brand at the Indianapolis chapter of the American Marketing Association's June luncheon. Patachou Brand Manager Christina Pippen said that Patachou is "aggressively pursuing expansion in other markets" and that the newest Patachou restaurant, Public Greens, will open in July.

The Patachou brand is a large family of restaurants including the Cafes Patachou, Petit Chou Bistro and Champagne Bar, Napolese Pizzeria and Wine Bar, Gelo Dolce Bar, Public Greens Urban Kitchen and Grill, Patatruck Mobile Patachou Kitchen and the non-profit feeding organization Patachou Foundation.

When Hoover founded Patachou, Inc. she had never even worked in a restaurant, and she said that the city was known as a safe haven for chains rather than local up-starts. But she just wanted to open a restaurant in the community where she lived and to feed people simple food like she fed her children at home. She even called Patachou's success accidental.

"[But then] something happened: we connected with people, we developed an evangelical following that were both customers and employees and staff," Hoover said. "We had a community that was remarkably supportive and really believed in us."

Hoover stressed that even accidental brands gain purpose after a while and talked about the frequent updates to the brand mission statement. One night when she could not sleep, Hoover said she realized that she needed to have a coherent mission statement and to bring staff into the conversation. She then developed the first 'natural laws' for her business.

Some of the natural laws include having a clearly stated mission and vision, giving customers a compelling reason to come back, that change is to be embraced and respected, to always be improving, to be as sustainable as possible, that all changes must be made uniformly, all individuals must be held accountable and that responsibility must be shared.

These laws feed into the visioning process. The most recent vision was created in 2010 and Hoover said that she was shocked by how quickly they reached it.

"We didn't reach it because we were there when we created it." Hoover said. "We reached it -I think- because we reached out to our staff, we reached out to the community, we reached out to our partners and our vendors and said 'This is how we see ourselves in 2010, and we need your help to get us there."

The Patachou brand's 2020 vision, which is still in the works, will say that the restaurant group will be 'radically different in many areas.' She is passionate about reinforcing this to the community and to her staff.

Another piece of her success in the brand has been treating employees like people and giving them opportunities to grow as leaders and in the company.

"We aren't just opening up restaurants to open up restaurants, we are not creating a foundation just to create a foundation ..," Hoover said. "We are doing this because if we have a vision for the company and the vision says that by a certain year we will be a benchmark company ... we say we will be a radically different company in the areas of customer service, in food sourcing in sustainability."

Hoover said that the brand is unconventional and that she is a an unconventional entrepreneur. So, the strategy she and her team take for expansion will be an explanation of the 'why;' why the Patachou brand is the way it is and why customers should come and keep coming back.

"When we enter a market that doesn't know us - you know we have 25 years of experience here and 25 years of being able to create our story - when we go in to a market where they don't know what Patachou is, where they don't know my name, we've got to hit the ground running," Hoover said.

She said that Napolese Pizzeria and Wine Bar will be the first of the Patachou family to expand in the new market, because it is a different sort of pizzeria.

"[Napolese is] probably the sole true farm-to-table restaurant in the state of Indiana," Hoover said.

She said that Napolese alone supports 32-36 family farms and all of the ingredients are chosen with purpose. She thinks that this authentic farm-to-table concept will set Napolese apart from the already saturated pizzeria market.

The newest local Patachou project, Public Greens, will open in July on the Monon Trail. According to the Patachou website, Public Greens will serve burgers and salads along with "guilty pleasure" foods that will be "elevated," including desserts, smoothies and milkshakes. All proceeds for this new restaurant will benefit the Patachou Foundation.

Hoover said that she is excited that the restaurant will help the company self-sustain the non-profit. Pippen explained that Public Greens is unique and that it will expand the Patachou Foundation's feeding capabilities.

"This is the only restaurant that we can track outside of New York and the Seattle-Portland area that is actually donating 100 percent of their profits to a foundation," Pippen said. "This summer we will be feeding kids five days a week at Brookside Park, before we were feeding three days a week at the Legacy Center last summer now we will be feeding every day."

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