Women at the Helm 2015

Meet 16 dynamos who are true models of success

ELAINE MARTIN
Founder and Owner, Eastside Cafe and Elaine’s

Nobody could ever accuse Elaine Martin of not paying her dues. “I knew very early on that I wanted to own my own restaurant,” the founder, owner and chef of Austin, Texas’ Eastside Cafe says. “My dad told me: You have to start at the bottom. So I started as a dishwasher. I worked my way up and after years of cooking for other people, I was ready to be the chef of my own kitchen.” Martin opened Eastside in 1988 with Dorsey Barger and James Lance. Today, she is the sole owner, and also owns Elaine’s, which she opened in March 2012, next door. Elaine’s specializes in slow-roasted pulled pork sandwiches and tacos as well as gourmet coffee beverages, while Eastside focuses on American comfort food including French toast and meatloaf; both have classic pies like chocolate silk and buttermilk. Martin enjoys making items from scratch and is, as The Austin Chronicle noted, a pioneer of that city’s garden-to-table movement, using ingredients from Eastside’s backyard garden, such as the edible flowers. She’s also greatly influenced by both her mother and her grandmother when it comes to cooking, and of course, her customers. “I just want them to be comfortable—comfortable and full and happy,” she recently said to Community Impact Newspaper. “I’m not trying to change the world.”