Cultivating Her Roots
Writer / Kara Reibel . Photographer / Stacy Newgent
The motivation behind opening Café Patachou at 49th and Penn was fueled by the need to fill a void for the type of place Martha Hoover wished to frequent. The location selected for this gutsy venture was close to home, close to her roots.
“Investing into my community is natural for me,” shares Hoover. “It only makes sense to invest in the place that you love.”
Hoover’s investment in her own neighborhood is substantial. It’s evident she believes in the Broad Ripple / Meridian Kessler neighborhoods, for her investment in these areas is consistent and generous. Not only does she have four of her restaurants in the area, but the Patachou corporate office and production kitchen are located here too.
“Not only do we have several locations concentrated in Broad Ripple and the Meridian Kessler neighborhoods, but each time Hoover remodels and improves the properties, it is with significant thoughtfulness and care,” says Patachou Inc. Brand Manager Christina Pippen. “Martha only does things one way, and that’s top notch, down to the last spoon.”
Rejuvenating a dilapidated building and turning it into a casual walk-in restaurant along the Monon is a prime example of the love Hoover has for the area as well as fostering Patachou Foundation’s mission to feed hungry kids.
Public Greens, Hoover’s new concept restaurant, is entirely committed to giving back to the community she holds dear. But it means far more, for they grow much of their own produce onsite. Hoover partnered with Growing Places Indy, supplying gardener Joe Huff as the in-house farmer at Public Greens to maintain and cultivate the raised beds along the Monon Trail.
Huff is scheduling “growing” workshops for the home gardener. “We plan to cover topics such as companion planting,” says Huff. “For instance, planting basil with tomatoes helps with spacial efficiency which is an element of sustainable urban farming.”
Farm Manager Tyler Henderson of Growing Places Indy is thrilled to be working with Public Greens and The Patachou Foundation. “At Growing Places Indy, our mission is to empower individuals and communities to Grow Well, Eat Well, Live Well and Be Well,” shares Henderson. “The Public Greens Micro Farm on the Monon Trail is a great addition to our other urban farming sites including the White River State Park, the Cottage Home Neighborhood and the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center.”
Another Patachou Foundation partnership is with “Bee Public,” which will provide Public Greens with bees, strictly for their pollination of produce.
“One in three bites of food is directly possible because of a bee,” says Pippen.
Sincere interest in educating their neighbors and patrons, Public Greens will host “First Friday at the Farm” every month. This event will feature a harvesting session with Farmer Joe, a beekeeping session with Public Greens Bee Keeper Kate and cocktails and dinner based on what is harvested. Whether it’s date night or with kids, these events promise to be fun and educational.
Patachou, Inc. is serious about education, requiring their staff to be experts in just about everything Patachou dishes out, whether it’s the new Stumptown nitrobrew coffee on tap at Public Greens or the espresso at Petit Chou. This particular training is extensive, allowing two weeks to understand how to properly prepare a cup of joe (no, not the farmer).
Stumptown Coffee Roasters Nitro coffee was served exclusively at their own shops until Hoover convinced them to trust her with their innovative nitro brew tapping process. Popular along the opposite coasts of the U.S. and originating in Portland, Oregon, Stumptown discovered a kindred spirit with Hoover and Patachou, Inc., resulting in the first non-Stumptown cafe to serve their cold nitro brew coffee on tap with the same reverence and exquisite attention to detail both companies demand.
Yet this is just the latest example of Hoover’s progressive demand for only the best for her patrons and staff. Hoover believes in investing in her personnel as well as her community. Extensive training is given to all staff, many of whom move up in the ranks, resulting in very little turnover.
“Years ago, before local produce suppliers could provide Hoover with all of her required ingredients, she would drive out to the airport to pick up her field greens,” shares Pippen. “No one had even heard of field greens, and certainly no other area restaurant was using them at that time.”
Today, Patachou, Inc. proudly supports 25 local family farms, five of which are entirely and exclusively supported by Hoover’s restaurants. Sourcing only the finest ingredients, quality is never compromised, and buying local is done whenever possible. “Martha is passionate about sourcing local whenever possible,” says Pippen.
“I am not motivated by pretension or fancy dishes, just superb quality food,” says Hoover.
The proof is evident with every dish that leaves her kitchens.
“When you look at the projects we have done since 1989, the center of our focus has been in Broad Ripple and Meridian Kessler neighborhoods,” says Hoover. “These are incredibly fine examples of urban neighborhoods that have remarkable diversity of residential and business owners. The microcosms of Mass Ave., Fountain Square and downtown get a lot of attention which is wonderful, but Broad Ripple and Meridian Kessler are thriving and remarkably stable.”
“We are a regional brand with eyes focused nationally,” says Hoover. “People may take us for granted locally, but there isn’t an equivalent in Denver or other regions around the country.” Hoover may enjoy being taken for granted, given the consistency of the every day dining experience at any of her restaurants.
Public Greens will soon be open seven days a week, including Sunday and Monday, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For details on beekeeping and gardening classes, please visit publicgreensurbankitchen.com.