NJ Pen First Look: Songbird Karaoke


Collingswood residents Mike and Ronnie Schmeltzer hope their private-booth karaoke lounge will add an infusion of experiential retail to the borough dining district.

By Matt Skoufalos | August 7, 2018

Songbird Karaoke owners Mike and Ronnie Schmeltzer in the lobby of their business. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

The downtown Collingswood business district is built on mom-and-pop storefronts with second-floor apartments above.

As times have changed, so have the businesses that comprise the downtown and the tenants that live above them.

But few have changed as much as the former Cloud Lodge at 790 Haddon Avenue, a Masonic temple that reopens August 17 as Songbird Karaoke.

Collingswood residents Mike and Ronnie Schmeltzer spent the past year renovating the building into a nine-studio karaoke lounge, and moving their family into the second floor above.

After a brief tenure in the nearby Haddon Towne Center, the Schmeltzers are settled into their new home-and-business, and are ready to welcome the first of their guests next Friday.

The lobby at Songbird Karaoke is designed after its owners’ experiences in boutique hotels. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

“Now the real stress begins,” Ronnie Schmeltzer said.

“I want it to be great for everyone,” she said.

“I want them to feel how much love and work we put into it, and get that back.”

“We’re trying to think of every last detail, which is really hard before people come in and experience it,” Mike Schmeltzer said.

“We want people to walk out of here saying they had a good time.”

The Schmeltzers left careers in hospitality for the karaoke business, and the touches of their prior professional lives linger in Songbird’s look and feel.

Its laminate flooring, vinyl couches, and textured wall décor conjure up the impression of a boutique hotel. Music-themed wall decals adorn the studio doors, within which funky wall art and high-definition televisions dominate the interiors.

The engine that powers the karaoke business is the 33,000-song Healsonic software system. Guests can select a song through its mobile app, via in-room tablets, and the traditional print books. Healsonic offers songs in English, Spanish, and Chinese, and guests can queue up their song lists using onsite Wi-Fi.

Songbird Karaoke runs on the Healsonic system, with song selections by app, tablet, or book. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

“We think kids’ parties are going to be a big hit,” Mike Schmeltzer said.

“Kids don’t have any issues singing in front of people.

“The adults take a step or two longer.”

Six small rooms rent for $40 hourly, and house two to six guests; two larger suites ($90 an hour) can host up to 18, and the 50-person party room rents for $200 an hour.

Those rates are discounted for off-peak (non-weekend) hours, and the fourth hour in any room is half-price.

Songbird will be open from 3 p.m. to midnight Friday, 9 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. After Labor Day, the studio will add Wednesday and Thursday hours (3 to 10 p.m.).

Guests are welcome to bring their own alcoholic beverages, but not food. Partnerships with the Pop Shop, the Tortilla Press, and Café Antonio’s will provide a limited delivery menu; Songbird also sells non-alcoholic beverages and snacks.

The smallest individual karaoke suites house two to six guests. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

But whether guests dine in or downtown, the Schmeltzers are hopeful that Songbird will offer a complementary, late-night experience to the Collingswood restaurant scene.

“People are going to want to go to dinner at all the great restaurants, and that’s good for us, because we are hoping that we push [foot traffic]later as well,” Mike Schmeltzer said.

“We love all the businesses here,” Ronnie Schmeltzer said.

“I think it just all works together.”

As Songbird preps for a grand opening August 17, the business is raffling off promotional packages for this week on its social media channels. Check out songbirdkaraoke.com for booking details.

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