Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa is known for its culturally-rich dining scene. Now, something else is buzzing in the neighborhood: an enormous entertainment hub where you can eat, dance and sing your heart out.
For more than a decade Scott Na’s Chorus Karaoke & Bar has been a fixture at 4428 Convoy St. The business – known for its private karaoke rooms inspired by Korean pop culture – is in the process of an ambitious expansion project taking shape in the 18,000-square-foot space adjacent to Chorus.
The new space is called Hive.
“We call it a mega-restaurant on Convoy. This is about 20,000-square-feet restaurant,” said Jay Choi, bar manager and curator of Hive’s barrel-aged cocktails program.
The first build-out of the large-scale project has been completed. Hive currently houses a restaurant, a 300-seat dining room, a 50-seat bar, plus Chorus’ seven karaoke rooms.
As the year unfolds, the business will complete additional phases of its build-out, adding an arcade, nightclub and seven more private karaoke rooms. The rooms will be for groups of six to 30 people.
Choi said the large-scale venue will be a place to do it all – from dining and grabbing a drink at the so-called “Island” bar, to hitting the nightclub and, of course, channeling your inner singing superstar.
“I think, for Americans, they’re not really familiar with the concept of private karaoke. A lot of American bars have public karaoke – open karaoke for everybody. But, in Asian culture, private karaoke is a very well-known thing,” Choi told NBC 7.
Each karaoke room is equipped with a television, a stereo karaoke system, seats, a table and karaoke song books. Choi said song selections run the gamut – from Vietnamese and Korean tunes, to American pop songs.
He said karaoke rooms appeal to those who love to sing, but don’t necessarily want to showcase their pipes in front of a crowd of strangers at a bar.
“It’s private karaoke, so you don’t have to sing or dance in front of a million people. You can just do it with your group of friends,” he added.
Choi said karaoke is all about having fun – not about having the best voice. Showmanship is the key to a good time.
"When I’m doing karaoke, I’m up there – I’m never sitting down. I’m always up there, dancing, screaming. I’m not a good singer, but I can definitely party," he said, with a smile.
Between songs, revelers can grab a bite to eat at Hive's open kitchen with a menu created by Executive Chef Q Yoo. Choi and Yoo said dishes include Korean specialties and global twists on classic dishes.
Behind the bar, Choi has built a cocktail program centered on barrel-aged spirits. Currently, he’s using about 30 barrels to make spirits for a variety of drinks, including tiki-style cocktails. Every few days, Choi tastes the spirits to see where they’re at in their aging process and gauges whether those spirits are ready to be poured. The bar also offers 50 beers on tap – many of them from local breweries.
Hive is currently open daily, from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Na remains at the helm as his little karaoke bar morphs into a much bigger entertainment entity and the culture of Korea continues to make its mark in Kearny Mesa.
"Part of the reason why Convoy is so popular is the diversity of Asian culture,” Choi added. “I want people to see that on the Convoy, there is something – this kind of place is out here."