Socializing with artistic flair is what it’s all about at Nyack’s Black Parakeetz, particularly for anyone who likes to paint, swig, and sing. And patrons can do all three at the art studio-karaoke bar combo.
The establishment has unusual beginnings. Owner Terry Clarke, who was looking to switch things up from his career in medical sales, started looking for a business to launch around Nyack in 2019. He and wife Naomi Clarke considered starting a bed and breakfast with a paint-and-sip twist, but nixed the idea when they couldn’t find the right space to make it happen.
“Finally, I just said, ‘Let’s do a paint-and-sip and karaoke,’” Clarke remembers. Karaoke was something the couple both loved, so at Naomi’s urging, they had tacked on singing to give the business a unique spin.
But the Clarkes’ plan hit a new snag. Along with being new to launching a business, the emergence of the pandemic further complicating things. Clarke was about to give up looking for a space when he found an available storefront. A sign informing passersby that this was where the underground railroad had once run was a good omen to him.
Clarke figured that once pandemic restrictions began to lift, people would be ready for a fun, experiential place to go out. He put together a serious business plan with the aid of organizations like Scores and the Small Business Development Center. “I did it just like that, and checked off every box in order,” he said.
His efforts didn’t go unnoticed. In 2021, Clarke won the New York Small Business Development Center Entrepreneur of the Year award for veterans. “I think they liked the fact that I had a really detailed plan,” he said, adding that the fact that his persistence in holding meetings remotely at the time to get the business off the ground may have also contributed.
Along the way, he frequented other local paint-and-sip places and noted what he liked most. “I saw that locking people in and feeding them to death with like a 2 o’clock paint class is not the thing,” he said. “You want to turn it into a paint party.”
After opening in fall 2021, Black Parakeetz currently has one room dedicated to karaoke and one for painting, complete with a bar that serves original drinks. If the right space opens up, Clarke envisions Black Parakeetz expanding, giving more space to the karaoke offerings and perhaps creating a portion specifically for children and a potential camp.
Until then, the Clarkes have continued to put their spin on things. They’ve begun hosting area plays, dances, and the occasional knitting class. Companies like Regeneron have brought employees to the site, using a team-building program developed by Clarke.
People regularly ask the entrepreneur whether he might franchise one day. Clarke’s entertaining the idea, although he plans to reserve this for further down the line. “One day maybe,” he said, adding that the concept is still unique, with no other karaoke, paint, and sip places in the area. So for now, the Black Parakeets remains a Nyack jewel where you can swig your favorite beverage while you pursue your passion for art, singing, or both.
By Maxine Lipner
Photos courtesy of Black Parakeetz
298 Main St, Nyack, NY