Few things evoke feelings of warmth and nostalgia like the memories we have of our family kitchens. For Adam Hoffman, known around Carmel as "Big Hoffa," these memories are particularly special. Growing up in a large, Californian family, he was lucky to be a part of a household where food was the heart and soul of their home. Even as a young child, he found himself drawn to the kitchen, eager to learn and help out in any way he could.
“I was always watching Mom cook and watching my grandma bake and I really, really got involved in cooking with my family and learning the recipes. I saw the work that was put in and I saw the end product, and for me I was hooked. From a very young age, I knew I was gonna open a restaurant.”
Originally Adam’s culinary career took him into corporate management for California Pizza Kitchen, but he continued cooking. “I was always barbecuing at home in order to get my friends over to the house. If they knew I was grilling ribs, they were over, and I always liked that.” But his original plan to purchase a backyard smoker for his home in California turned into a permanent move to Indiana.
In 2003, while searching online for a smoker, Adam found a man in Anderson, Indiana who was constructing big food truck trailers. The discovery sparked his interest, prompting him to buy a plane ticket for a weekend trip to Indiana; however, this impromptu adventure completely altered his life's path. Two weeks later, he packed all of his belongings, bid farewell to loved ones, and purchased a food truck to establish his own enterprise in the Midwest.
Although it may seem extreme, this decision was exactly what Adam needed to kickstart his career as a chef. Despite encountering numerous challenges while launching his business, he refused to be deterred by setbacks and persevered with his vision, ignoring any negative influences along the way.
Getting a little choked up he recalls what it was like, early in his business when Noblesville no longer granted his food truck permit extension, “I was literally driving around in my car looking for an empty building thinking this is it, this is my last day. I was a guy in tears saying, I don't want to be a failure. I don't want to go back home to California. I want to prove that I can do this.”
That’s when he found his current Big Hoffa’s home: 800 E. Main Street in Westfield, Indiana. A former gun shop adjacent to an antique mall became the humble beginnings for what is now his 300+ person restaurant. Little by little, he took over the space. “I never meant to become a big business, but when people were waiting 30-40 minutes in line just to order, I knew I needed to expand.”
While in the beginning he was cooking, cleaning, and running the business, nowadays he can focus on developing new menu items and supporting local causes. “We're big supporters of the Indiana Wish Foundation, local law enforcement, and first responders.” His belief in giving back directly corresponds to his positive nature.
Adam currently lives in Carmel with his beautiful wife and two sons. When he’s not in his restaurant, he and his family are traveling the world making memories and looking for inspiration for his next big menu item.
"I saw the work that was put in and I saw the end product...From a very young age, I knew I was gonna open a restaurant.”