This building at 717 E. Market St. will look vastly different when it opens as NoraeBar this summer. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

There’s a chance that, unless you’ve been to South Korea, you’ve never experienced a concept quite like what a pair of Flying Axes co-owners have in mind for NuLu later this summer.

NoraeBar, a karaoke concept, will open sometime before August, according to Zack Pennington, a minority owner in Flying Axes. He is opening the bar with Louis Adamson and Joe Miller. The club’s name is a combination of the word “noraebang,” Korean for “song-room,” and “bar.” (Adamson also is a minority owner in Flying Axes, which is primarily operated by a larger group that includes Dave Durand, Jon Shaw, Jesse Lucas and Mike Brown.)

Essentially, NoraeBar is all karaoke, all the time, unlike many bars that offer karaoke once or twice per week. And not only will there be a full stage and dedicated sound system, but a big part of the concept involves private rooms that can be rented by small groups by the hour for private singing sessions.

“We want our karaoke experience to be the focal point, not an afterthought,” Pennington said. “When you’re on our stage, we want you to feel like you’re at Headliners.”

NoraeBar, which will be in a roughly 3,000-square-foot space at 717 E. Market St. that once was a pest control business and warehouse, will feature about nine private rooms, some for groups up to eight, and others for groups up to 16. Smaller rooms will be available for about $50 per hour, while larger rooms will be priced at about $90.

The rooms will have multiple microphones for singalongs.

At NoraeBar, the goal will be to make you feel like you’re singing on stage at a big venue.

“It’s like a high-tech version of singing around a campfire,” Pennington said, noting that part of why he believes in the concept is that while some people like to sing, they don’t necessarily want to sing to 50 strangers in a bar.

Private rooms are designed so that they can sing to, or along with, a small group of friends instead.

For the extroverts who want to sing to a larger group, it will be a small charge to sing a song — likely only $1 or $2. He said this helps create a more even flow and helps prevent people from paying DJs to jump ahead in line or stack up several songs back to back.

Pennington first visited a similar concept while in South Korea during graduate school, and when the building in NuLu, which is right across from the Green Building, became available, he thought a similar bar could work in Louisville.

He visited other such concepts around the U.S. — the closest one is Tokyo Kitty in Cincinnati, he said — to gather ideas.

Part of the concept also includes occasionally having live band karaoke, along with themed karaoke contests with prizes.

The bar program, he said, will consist of craft beer, bourbon and moderately priced cocktails, as well as sake and soju, and cocktail service will be available to all rooms.

NoraeBar will open for happy hour daily and likely will be open until 3 a.m. most nights. Pennington said there won’t be a kitchen but noted that talks are underway with area food establishments for delivery options. He said he expects NoraeBar to employ 15 to 20 people when it opens.

In addition, a parking lot in front of the building will be converted into about a 1,500-square-foot patio. The light blue façade of the building, which currently looks almost like a small house, will be radically changed, with modern design and lighting. Interior design will be similar.

“We’re kind of going for a Seoul at night vibe,” Pennington said.

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Kevin Gibson
Kevin Gibson tackles the 3Rs — retail, restaurants, real estate — plus, economic development. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono. Check out his books, “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft” and “100 Things to do in Louisville Before You Die.” He has won numerous awards for his work but doesn’t know where most of them are now. In his spare time, he plays in a band called the Uncommon Houseflies.Email Kevin at [email protected]