Referring to herself as a “strategic nutjob,” the fashion-designer-turned-tattoo-shop-owner-turned-restaurateur sees foodservice as another medium for art. And for her, Minneapolis is the ideal canvas.
Her slogan for the city? DAM N!ce: as in Design, Art, Music (in the North). “We’re ‘!nnovative,’ creative and entrepreneurial,” she says. The city’s dining scene is diverse without a stronghold belief that all concepts should be alike. “I happen to have chosen kitsch and funny as my modus operandi,” Bock says.
She first was inspired to open a restaurant by the 20-somethings she was inking up at her tattoo and piercing shop, Saint Sabrina’s. “A whole lot of restaurants [and] bars would not hire them, at least in Minneapolis … unless they covered up.” So she launched Psycho Suzi’s, a tiki pizza place “that purposely hired and employed very visibly tattooed and pierced staff and trained [and] expected them to be professionals,” she says.
Minnesotans bought into the idea, and Psycho Suzi’s was a fast success. After a few years, Bock had to move the restaurant to a bigger location, which now brings in $7 to $8 million a year.
She’s since gone on to make her mark with other off-beat concepts, including a zombie-theme mixology lounge and, most recently, Betty Danger’s, a mockery of the modern country club. While she’s dabbling with other projects, she’s not in a rush to grow her local empire. “I thoroughly enjoy concepting, researching, evaluation and [the] initial execution,” she says. Her method for ideation: questioning the status quo and how things always have been done, but also knowing the history and reading and watching people, keeping in mind, “it’s a business, not just a giant art project.”
“Minneapolis’s restaurant concepts are pretty diverse, with a great group of restaurateurs caring about a wide variety of things, which makes it exciting to be an eater and drinker here.”