Upon entering Big Box Karaoke customers are met by a painting on the wall of lyrics to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” Not only is it a popular karaoke song, but it also represents two UA alumni’s dream of opening a private-suite karaoke studio.
Located on Block Avenue, Big Box Karaoke is a concept the owners, Mailena Urso and Justin Urso, first experienced when they lived in Japan, they said.
Private suite karaoke venues are known as karaoke boxes in Asian countries. They are made up of smaller rooms, that clients can rent for a certain amount of time, Mailena said.
Big Box Karaoke allows clients to rent small, medium and large rooms, which are available for walk-ins and reservations at an hourly rate of $5 to $10 depending on the day and hours. Mailena recommends people make reservations, but walk-ins are not discouraged. However, without a reservation clients might have to wait for their turn for a room, she said.
Customers can pick and queue their songs in advance through the website. All seven rooms are equipped with lights and are mostly soundproof.
The menu at Big Box Karaoke is Asian street food fusion with some American twists. Tacos, as well as bánh mî minis, are served with Asian sauces and meats, which are sourced from Tang’s in Springdale and Briar Rose Bakery in Farmington. Cocktails, beers, wines and sakes are made with cocktail syrups from pink House Alchemy in Bentonville. There are also vegan and vegetarian options and substitutions, Mailena Urso said.
But Big Box Karaoke is not all about the karaoke. The Tuesday night Sing it & Wing it special, which includes six chicken wings, room fee and a beer introduces customers to the private-suite karaoke experience as well as their food, Mailena said.
Fayetteville resident, Lawanna Eason, 30, found out about Big Box Karaoke because of its proximity to Maxine’s Tap Room and the Tuesday night special at Big Box Karaoke.
This special, as well as spontaneous free 30-minute karaoke sessions, are meant to encourage people who have not tried this kind of karaoke before.
People who are nervous about participating often enjoy themselves better in the private environment of the rooms, Mailena said.
Building and leasing costs delayed the Ursos’ dream of a private-suite karaoke bar for 10 years, but when the couple was walking down Block Avenue in May of 2018 they noticed a building available next to Maxine’s Tap Room. The space was just what they were looking for and upon entering the space they noticed something: it was a big box, Mailena said.
“We knew the name back in 2009 when we were doing it for the first time, so this has been a dream of ours for more than 10 years,” Mailena said.