PHOTO BY SARAH FENSKE
A new-high karaoke parlor will open at 6655 Delmar Boulevard.
Nearly one year after Social House II closed its doors
in the Delmar Loop following a toxic — and costly
— legal battle, University City has given its approval to a new tenant aiming to open in the spot: W Karaoke Lounge.
The new concept, from local entrepreneur Ivan Wei, will be modeled on the karaoke spots that have taken China, South Korea and Japan by storm — and are increasingly a high-octane nightlife option in cities like New York and Los Angeles as well. Wei plans to offer eleven private rooms with state-of-the-art karaoke machines, as well as a larger room and bar area for those unafraid to take a bigger stage.
"All the decor in there will be very fancy looking," Wei promises. "You'll feel like you're going to Las Vegas."
The 4,000-square foot space at 6655 Delmar Boulevard will be getting a gut rehab, Wei says. Before it was briefly home to the Social House II (a four-month stint that was earned more press coverage
than most bars can dream of), the standalone building was home for six years to a more traditional sports bar, Market Pub House
Wei says he already has a demolition permit from the city and will be working with designers both in New York and St. Louis to renovate the interior. (He also got approval for a conditional use permit for the concept at University City's May 8 council meeting, suggesting that none of City Hall's resistance to the body-painted servers at Social House II will carry over to this bar and lounge.) Planned enhancements include a $300,000 karaoke system.
Wei says he's been thinking about opening such a spot for nearly eight years, since his days as a college student. While several other spots in town offer Korean karaoke or Chinese karaoke, he believes they're more old-school than what today's globe-trotting students are seeking.
"I thought, 'Maybe I want to do this.' But it wasn't the right time," he says. "When I was in college, the Asian population here was still not that huge. But now it feels like more and more Asian people are moving here — and many American customers don't want to sing karaoke in public either. They just want to spend time with their family and friends." He believes W Karaoke Lounge can ably serve both sets of customers.
Wei says he hopes to be open by October. He plans to keep hours until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and until midnight on weeknights. The space will open daily at 2 p.m. and offer a limited menu of both American and pan-Asian food.
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