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Karaoke mystery on Nagle: What is Rock Box? – UPDATE

UPDATE: And the answer is: private karaoke studios… with a bar!

Rock Box co-owner Mindy Dodobara cleared up any confusion. She and her husband Steven, a dentist in Federal Way, are planning to open a karaoke “box” in the traditional Japanese style, as she described it, with 12 private boxes ranging from small (four to six guests), to medium (eight to ten), to large (12 to 14).  Rock Box will also include a party room that accommodates up to 40 people and which will host a weekly, non-karaoke DJ night.  While this would be the first karaoke shop for the Dodobaras, they are partnering with more experienced karaoke operator Toshihiko Kida out of NYC.

The big difference between Rock Box and the city’s existing private karaoke studios?  Booze.  However, instead of being primarily a bar, Rock Box will be first and foremost a karaoke venue, just one that offers a full bar.  “For some people, liquor is sort of a prerequisite for karaoke,” she said. Seattle’s Best Karaoke, located at 1818 Minor Ave., does not serve alcohol and requires that guests who bring their own libations pay for a permit.

Mindy, a Capitol Hill native, anticipates signing the lease in the next two to three days and opening by mid-October.  In the meantime, she is seeking advice on how to make Rock Box a hit.  “We’d love to have feedback from people as to what they’d like to see in our place,” she said. To contact her, follow Rock Box on Twitter @rockboxseattle.

Original Report:
Warm up those vocal cords, Capitol Hill. The team that recently attracted Blick Art Materials to the neighborhood is considering a karaoke outfit to take over another space in its historic building at Pine and Broadway.

Monday morning, signs promoting the Fall 2010 arrival of Rock Box appeared in the windows at the building’s southeastern corner along Nagle Place across from Bobby Morris Playfield. According to Jill Cronauer of property owner Hunters Capital, Rock Box specializes in karaoke but is not a karaoke bar. The lease has yet to be signed, though the sign is up.

So what might it be? Private karaoke studios? A karaoke discotheque? The rare hybrid, a karaoke club in front with a jewelry store in the back? It remains to be seen.

One clue can be found in Washington State corporation records. CHS has found records for a Rock Box LLC incorporated in Washington in 2008. Listed as “governing persons” are a Steven and Mindy Dodobara of Seattle and Toshihiko Kida of Forest Hills, NY who has the Twitter handle karaokechamp123 and operates a business called Karaoke Champ in NYC. According to, the business provides rental karaoke machinery and operates six lounges in New York, three in Southern California and one in Atlanta. Could Capitol Hill’s Rock Box be a Pacific Northwest outpost for the network? We have calls out to various involved parties and will update when we learn more.

From the Crescent to the Cuff (and many in between), Capitol Hill currently has much to offer the wannabe American Idols in us all, but is there such thing as a karaoke threshold, a point at which our neighborhood could be over-saturated with karaoke? If such a thing does exist, we may not have crossed that line yet.

Scott Hembree, who has managed the Crescent for 10 years, would welcome a new arrival to the neighborhood. “As long as there aren’t too many in one cluster, it would be great to have one more,” he said. “I wouldn’t discourage it. I love karaoke.” He added that cities such as San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale play host to even more karaoke that Seattle does. 

Black Nail Productions owner Marcus Lo Ré, who hosts karaoke Monday and Tuesday nights at Purr, would encourage the neighborhood’s next karaoke purveyor to reach out to him and to bars in the neighborhood that already offer karaoke. Lo Ré, who has put on karaoke shows for more than 17 years, added that perhaps the neighborhood’s hetero population is an untapped market for aspiring crooners.

 “Karaoke is far from dead, as far as I’m concerned,” said Lo Ré. “We haven’t even gotten started yet.”

Perhaps Capitol Hill has room yet for one more woozy, 2 a.m. rendition of “I Will Survive.”

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9 thoughts on “Karaoke mystery on Nagle: What is Rock Box? – UPDATE

  1. Not excited.

    I was intrigued when I saw the sign yesterday but now I’m dissappointed. Thanks for the detective work!

  2. I would love to have more karaoke options on the hill, especially of the rent-a-room type for parties. Hopefully this one will be cleaner and nicer than many of the other ones around.

  3. This rulez! I love Karaoke and LOVE the private rooms…then you can have fun and go crazy and you don’t have to listen to other groups. Plus a bar! Best of both worlds!!

  4. “UGH” some people are so picky! And do not know how to spell! I think this is the greatest thing to come to Seattle these days. I could not be more proud of these young Dodobara’s!!