When I created the first Café Patachou, I had no idea that that Patachou would evolve to be such an amazing company. What I did know is that I could not, in 1989, take my children, then babies, out to eat to any restaurant in Indianapolis. The food being prepared (and that is a stretch of the word) and served was not the kind of food that I wanted to eat or feed my children. The quality of the ingredients used and the manner in which food was prepared were caught in a time warp. I could not understand for the life of me why in the middle of one of the country’s richest agricultural regions we were forced to eat food made in factories, delivered frozen from the back end of a semi, and reheated. Years before farm-to-table became a food “movement” I was driving my kids to family owned farms and vegetable stands, buying meat directly from a small butcher, baking from scratch. I always believed that there were other people who wanted to eat the way I ate, cook the way I cooked and shopped the way I shopped.
Growing up, my favorite times were not when we discussed politics, religion or current events – I was busy focusing on the food and wanting to talk about our next meal. I believed, as I had been taught by my native New Yorker parents, that the best ingredients in the world were shipped to New York and Paris. Once I settled in Indiana, I couldn’t help but notice that the best ingredients were being grown in Indiana – in our collective “back yard.” I was dumbfounded that restaurateurs in Indiana were not using these ingredients, making what I thought to be the best food. With no plan “B” and absolutely zero restaurant experience, I set out to create a restaurant that used the best local ingredients, prepared expertly. What I would cook for my own family was exactly what I wanted for my restaurant guests. Patachou Inc is larger now, and I’m not in the kitchen whisking three eggs per omelet anymore, but we are still are spreading my joie de vie and original passion for premium local ingredients – now in several concepts and locations.
Being honored by the James Beard Foundation in March of 2013 and 2016 was a surprise, but a welcome one. It is incredibly gratifying to have 24 years of hard work recognized nationally. As an owner of multiple restaurant concepts and locations, the JBF award really speaks to consistency and excellence of food and service over the long haul.
In September of 2002 we experienced the closest thing I can imagine to winning an Oscar. The cafe was written about in Bon Appetit Magazine, in their Neighborhood Restaurants issue. The title of the story was “Our Ten Favorite Places for Breakfast in the Nation.” Needless to say, we are thrilled to be credited in the pages of the country’s premier culinary publication.
The company has purposefully grown slowly over the past twenty odd years. Locations, staff, vendors are all chosen with care and specificity. Mistakes have certainly been made but they are quickly corrected. Being a hands on owner who is truly active in the business assures the adherence to exacting standards. I eat nearly two meals a day, daily, at one of my cafes. All of my meetings are generally held at one of my cafes. I know the names of almost all of my staff members and many of our regular customers. I answer all of my phone calls and customer correspondence myself. I have trust in my hand-picked and thoroughly vetted key staff that they share in my vision for this company and that they are some of the best and the most capable in the industry.