A karaoke restaurant and bar will open in the Park N Shop plaza this fall.
The business, called Hsiang K, will feature a restaurant and small bar in the front, with four private karaoke rooms in the back.
Owner Xipeng “Jason” Chen, who recently graduated from the University of Delaware’s hotel and restaurant management program, said his parents own similar karaoke restaurants in Shanghai, China.
Hsiang K – the name means “missing home,” Chen said – will serve Taiwanese cuisine. Some dishes, like General Tso chicken, will be familiar to an American audience, while more exotic choices include braised pig intestine and an herb jelly dessert.
Chen plans to invest $100,000 just in the sound systems for the karaoke rooms but noted the business will be well-soundproofed and does not anticipate it disturbing neighbors. The restaurant will be open until midnight, seven days a week.
While the business will no doubt draw from UD’s burgeoning international student population, Carol Plummer, a real estate agent representing the restaurant, said the karaoke bar’s target market goes beyond just students.
“You’d be surprised. A lot of adults and families like it,” Plummer said. “It’s very popular overseas, and not just for students.”
One of the first adults in line is likely to be Mayor Polly Sierer, who couldn’t contain her excitement Monday night when Chen came to council seeking a special-use permit to sell alcohol.
“I’ve been asking for karaoke since I’ve been mayor,” Sierer said. “I need to know the opening date because I will be there in one of those rooms singing."
Council approved the special-use permit unanimously. Plummer said the business will start with beer and wine and then consider other types of alcohol.
“I definitely think this will be an asset to the Park N Shop. I think this is something that is unique for us here in Newark,” Councilwoman Jen Wallace said. “This is not going to become one of our problem businesses. I think the applicant is sincere. I think this is a different target audience.”
Sierer praised Chen for putting his UD degree to use here in Newark.
“That’s exactly what we want and I’m very, very happy you're continuing to stay here and operate a business in our community,” she told him.
However, not all of Sierer’s colleagues were as musically inclined.
“My affirmative vote does not mean I will be participating in the karaoke,” Councilman Jerry Clifton said, prompting laughter.