The “Posh” Up Scale restaurant is almost ready to open

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Southtown restaurateurs Emily and Houston Carpenter are gearing up to add a heavyweight to the South Alamo dining scene.

The husband-wife duo say Up Scale is being finished and is expected to open “in early fall.” Houston Carpenter has a tentative opening date in mind, but given the setbacks suffered by the hospitality industry during the pandemic, from staff shortages to COVID-19 outbreaks, he doesn’t want to solidify a date in a rush.

Up Scale marks the opening of the Carpenters’ second restaurant in less than a year. They added a touch of pastel last winter when Southtown hit the seaside with the opening of Little Em’s Oyster Bar.


“We opened Little Em’s in December, so two restaurants in one year,” explains Emily Carpenter. “We’re really excited, we feel really blessed.”

The Carpenters previously described Up Scale as Little Em’s grown-up, “sexy” sister. The menu will span Little Em’s seafood offerings with a sushi bar serving rolls, nigiri, and sashimi, as well. only scallops, branzino and halibut. Steaks will also have a place on the menu. While Little Em’s serves beer and wine, Up Scale offers a full bar menu with signature cocktails.

Up Scale will also give Carpenters the opportunity to serve more people at a time. The 2,500 square foot space can accommodate 160 guests, as opposed to their more intimate digs at Little Em’s, which can seat 50 inside.

The quick opening of their second concept was not typical. Construction began in mid-March. Houston Carpenter, who owns a construction company, says all the internal work cut the time in half. Although accelerated, the carpenters did not cut corners. The San Antonians may remember the building as once home to the Feast. Houston Carpenter says there is no trace of the old restaurant left.

“When we found this place, it was in really bad shape,” he adds. “We gutted it completely, installed a whole new plumbing, all new electrical, all new. HVAC. It’s a whole new restaurant.”

The couple hired New York-based designer Crystal Sinclair, currently nominated for HGTV Designer of the Year, to give Up Scale its iconic aesthetic. The Carpenters shared preview photos showing a mid-century modern bench seat, sleek black terrazo floors, and a blocky chandelier that Sinclair describes as a “vintage glam throwback to glittering goodness.”

In other words, it’s a space worthy of that outfit you saved up for a good night out.

“I would say Little Em’s is very cute and cool,” says Houston Carpenter. “Around here, I’d say it’s a dark, sexy vibe. It’s more chic.”

The couple credit their staff for maintaining Little Em’s fort for the first year of operation to allow them to open Up Scale.

“We took on the talented people in the industry and let them shine,” said Houston Carpenter. “We attribute our success to them very much.”

As for inspiration for starting another business, the couple say they get flavor from their foodie adventures. They say Up Scale will be an infusion of their culinary experiences in Beverly Hills and New York.

“From finishes, to food, to cocktails, the east and west coasts will shine at Up Scale,” said Houston Carpenter.

Now with two restaurants under their belt, the Carpenters are teasing more concepts than they hope to add to their newly formed hotel group, Carpenter and Carpenter. Houston Carpenter says there are plans for a wine bar and more, though they’re keeping them under wraps for now.

“We just thought Emily would sell a few oysters a day and that would be the end of it,” Houston Carpenter said. “A year ago I was like, ‘I’m a construction guy,’ but now I say I’m in the hotel business. We fell in love with the industry.”

“The speech explains how Little Em’s transformed King William, and everyone is delighted to have the same Little Em’s hospitality, but in an Up Scale form across the street,” he adds. . “Everyone knows we are not from out of town trying to make a quick buck, we live two blocks from both restaurants. So we are emotionally and spiritually invested in this neighborhood.”

Like its sister restaurant, Up Scale will be open Wednesday through Sunday. From Wednesday to Saturday, the hours will be from 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and from 10:20 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for Sunday brunch.

“I always hear ‘One is lucky, two is good,’” said Houston Carpenter. “So those who think Little Em is lucky, we’re about to show them we’re good.”

Up Scale is located at 1024 South Alamo Street.



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