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New Karaoke Bar in Chelsea to Stress Sober Singing Over Drunken Antics

 Mini Rex is slated for the currently vacant space at 277 W. 22nd St., between Seventh and Eighth avenues.
Mini Rex is slated for the currently vacant space at 277 W. 22nd St., between Seventh and Eighth avenues.
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Mini Rex

CHELSEA — When Karin Elgai got sober nearly three years ago, karaoke bars became her unlikely venue of choice.

“It’s such a great way to… go crazy with the performance, and have a really good time and express yourself, [but] just go back to normal once you’re off the stage,” the 28-year-old said.

She and fellow TriBeCa resident Edouard Gave plan to open an upscale karaoke bar called Mini Rex at 277 W. 22nd St., between Seventh and Eighth avenues, within the next year.

Standard alcoholic beverages will still be on the menu — pending liquor license approval — but the bar will also offer a range of "mocktails" for those who prefer not to imbibe.

“When I mentioned the idea of having an ‘encouraged sober’ environment for karaoke in AA meetings, people really liked that idea,” she added.

The bar — which gets its name from the breed of the pair’s pet rabbit — will feature three private karaoke rooms and a communal performance space at the front.

The bar is moving into the space formerly occupied by The Unicorn, a gay porn shop that closed last year.

One of the rooms will provide a “luxury experience” similar to the one boutique karaoke bar Baby Grand offers in Little Italy, Gave said.

On some nights, a grand piano or live band will back karaoke singers — lending a “jazz lounge feel” to the venue, he explained.

“We’re sort of trying to move away from the drunken, disorderly experience you have in a lot of karaoke bars, which I think ruins the experience for a lot of people who enjoy karaoke,” the 32-year-old added.

“There’s great places to do that in Manhattan already, [but] that’s really not what we’re looking for."

Sandwiches, cured meat plates and cheese platters ranging in price from $8 to $24 are included on the bar’s tentative menu.

Elgai and Gave — both of whom have years of hospitality experience under their belts — hope Mini Rex’s "intimate" feel will encourage people to sing, whether they’ve ordered booze or not.

“For a lot of people, a bar environment doesn’t feel so safe,” Elgai said.

“I want people to know that even if they’re not sober, even if they just want to go out and not drink for that specific night, they’ll have a place where they can go and do it comfortably.”