We’re all feeling a little bit beyond stir crazy these days, looking for ways to let loose in the new socially distanced world we live in. BIG BOX KARAOKE, located on Block Avenue – one of our favorite streets in Fayetteville – is one way to cure your pandemic blues. We recently spoke with Mailena Urso, who owns and operates Big Box Karaoke with her husband Justin, about how private suite karaoke is the perfect activity for right now. 

The Scout Guide: What’s your business up to right now?

Mailena Urso: In May we were able to open our private suites back up, and since we have a very unique atmosphere with private rooms, it felt like the perfect opportunity to help people feel safe going out again. We have reduced occupancy for all of our rooms by half, so that no more than 10 people can be in our largest room, to adhere to all health guidelines. Everyone is required to wear a mask outside of the room, but once in your private room you may remove it. We now provide a full contact-less experience. We have a table outside of the room for placing food and beverages, and a system to communicate with our servers about ordering and when items are ready. We’ve implemented a lot of new technology to keep the experience totally contact-less and private. We still offer OUR FULL MENU, which features Asian street style food, and local craft beer and craft cocktails. We’re also gearing up to open a new patio for outdoor dining.

TSGThat sounds like an experience made for the moment!

MU: A lot of times when people have been coming in lately, it is the first time they have been out since the pandemic. We love being able to provide a place where guests can feel safe, and have so much fun. One couple recently told us that for 3 hours they forgot about everything! Since reopening, we’ve had groups come in for birthdays, date nights, family nights, bachelorette parties and just a casual get together.

TSG: What has been your biggest challenge with your business?

MU: This business has been a dream of ours for a really long time. My husband, Justin, and I lived in Japan for a while, back in 2007, and this style of karaoke is really popular there. We fell in love with the idea of renting a room and only singing with the people we want to. We have been through many challenges to make it happen though. We have tried twice before, in Chicago and in Fayetteville, to open a business like this, but those attempts did not work out. When we finally made that dream into a reality with Big Box Karaoke in 2018, we had toddlers and we worked really hard to make sure our kids had a consistent day while we were working our butts off for this place. We close at 2 am on Friday and Saturday, so one of us was always there. Balancing that night time schedule with our young family was very challenging! The kids spent a lot of time at BBK when they were very little. We have a lot of Disney songs in our library for karaoke, so that helped.

TSG: What’s bringing you joy right now?

MU: I talked about the family time we lost during the opening of the business, but the silver lining of this pandemic time has been getting that family time back. We were able to have the flexibility to be together as a family, to spend time together, to go camping together and things we did not get to do when we were working so hard to open the business. The challenges we are facing right now as a small business are definitely real, but I’m certainly looking at our family time together as a gift during these tough times.

TSG: What you’re watching/reading/listening to…

MU: My husband Justin and I are both reading Kaizen, which is a book about the Japanese method for transforming habits and it has been very eye opening for us. We’ve been practicing mindfulness and meditation to try to destress.

TSG: I suppose we should ask you, what are you singing right now?

MU: Justin and I are known for singing Love Shack by the B-52’s or Jackson by Johnny Cash and June Carter together. For solo singing, it depends on my mood, but you’ll find me singing some Lady Gaga or Spice Girls.

TSG: The local businesses/services you’re using this week…

MU: LITTLE BREAD COMPANY is just across from our business. We go there a lot for coffee! With the new Outdoor Refreshment Area in Fayetteville, we’ve visited our neighbors at PINPOINT and MAXINE’S for a drink to-go. We also go to the new OZARK NATURAL FOODS location frequently for groceries and snacks. 

Read Big Box Karaoke’s full REOPENING FAQS HERE. Make A RESERVATION ONLINE to bring your #quaran-team to Big Box Karaoke for a fun and safe evening! Plus, stay tuned for the reveal of the new outdoor patio area at BBK where you can eat + drink local in the open air (and, also, partake in the ORA – Outdoor Refreshment Area!).