Law school classes in the old IU School of Law-Indianapolis building on the IUPUI campus taught Martha Hoover how to argue her case before judges and juries.
These days, though, the "cases" she's making are less about food for thought and more about satisfying the appetites of her newest "judges," the customers visiting her five Indianapolis-area restaurants.
In 1989, after a short legal career as a member of the Marion County prosecutor's office and after starting a family that includes husband John, two daughters, one son and her "other" two children (also known as the Hoover family dogs), she launched Café Patachou on North Pennsylvania Street.
Nearly two decades and dozens of awards and accolades later, Hoover now oversees the five restaurants bearing her brand - Café Patachous at 49th & Pennsylvania, in the Fashion Mall on River Crossing Boulevard and in Carmel on 126th Street; Patachou on the Park in the downtown Simon Building; and her newest, Petite Chou, in Broad Ripple.
Her explanation for the unusual career shift? A passion for mealtime.
"I've been addicted to food my whole life! When I'm eating dinner, I'm thinking about what I'll have for breakfast," Hoover laughs.
"My legal career really was very satisfactory, but it just didn't fill that creative need in me," Hoover says. "I'd started my family and I'd desperately look around for a place to take the kids when we wanted to eat out. But to me, the food industry in those days was too mechanized, too chain-oriented."
So Hoover decided that if restaurants couldn't satisfy her food desires, "I'd start my own."