If you like pizza, a community-like atmosphere and questionable renditions of Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You,” then Wednesday nights at Raniero’s is the place to be.
The local, family-owned pizzeria started karaoke night over the summer in 2012 to provide entertainment for NKU’s Orientation Leaders, who frequented the local eatery. Presently, Raniero’s boasts a modest flat screen for lyric reading, an impressive DJ booth ran by one of the co-owners and heavy binders full of possible song choices.
The pizzeria opened in December of 2009 in another space of the strip mall on Martha Layne Collins Boulevard, and is now housed in what community members would recognize as the old Blockbuster. The space that previously held a pool table is now a stage for singers and also doubles as a dance floor for their Thursday college nights with dollar beers.
Natalie Ramirez, owner of Raniero’s, agreed that hosting a karaoke night has been successful from a business standpoint.
“There’s nothing to do here,” she said of the surrounding areas around NKU’s campus.
Raniero’s has about 30 karaoke regulars on Wednesdays, ranging from middle-aged community patrons, to the many NKU students shuttling over from campus and walking over from Callahan.
Ramirez started Raniero’s as a community, family-friendly place to eat, but has found the eatery catering to NKU students because of the proximity. Raniero’s offers an abundance of ever-changing specials to attract students and enable them to come and enjoy the food and environment with the often limited amount of funds available to them. This is huge for the students, but not really a money-maker.
“The community is our bread and butter,” Ramirez said.
Most of the singers have some type of connection to NKU. Friends Nick Laux and Aaron Hatfield come to karaoke night off and on. When asked if they sang karaoke often, without missing a beat, both replied, “all the time.” The two looked at each other grinning before saying that their favorite song to sing is “Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons. Laux is a recent NKU graduate and Hatfield is a sophomore English and pre-law major.
The crowd each Wednesday varies based on the events going on throughout campus.
“Someone turns 21 pretty much every day,” Ramirez said. Raniero’s starts getting busy around 10 p.m. with karaoke participants and those looking for some entertainment while munching on the famous New York style pizza.
Raniero’s staff are often seen taking a break from their duties temporarily to take the stage for a rap song or popular country hit. Their involvement helps create the carefree and fun vibe one feels as soon as you walk in the door.
Some sing as if they’re standing in front of judges, others get up there just to have a good time. Karaoke starts at 9 p.m. every Wednesday. Raniero’s is located on Martha Layne Collins Boulevard next to the tanning salon.