Bottoms Up

Chic tavern and restaurant pours new life into downtown's Rand Building

Chic tavern pours new life into downtown San Antonio's Rand Building

Double Standard San Antonio
Double Standard is the latest concept from San Antonio's Empty Stomach Group. Photo by Brandon Watson

A stylish new tavern is breathing new life into downtown’s Rand Building. After a week of soft opening service, Double Standard quietly announced its official opening on June 3 at 114 E. Houston St. via an edit to a previously published Instagram post.

The muted rollout is typical of restaurateur Chad Carey’s Empty Stomach Group — the owner of Barbaro, Paper Tiger, Little Death, and more. Although the company did not return an interview request by deadline, a server confirmed the concept has been operating since May 31.

Double Standard replaces Rosella at the Rand — the downtown location of the once-thriving coffee chain. Although the latter never formally announced its shutter, it was one of the earliest casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic and never resumed regular hours after quarantine.

The decor reimagines the space as a cozier hangout with dotted seating groups and long communal tables. Gone are the blush tones and deco influences, replaced by a darker atmosphere that reads part ‘70s fern bar and part German beer hall.

Boozier than the space’s former occupants, the spot boasts an unpretentious beverage menu with rotating draft beer, a small selection of wine, and non-doctrinaire takes on classic cocktails like Manhattans, sherry cobblers, and martinis. Well drinks are always poured as doubles, playing off the name. But customers can reduce the octane by opting for one of the $4 “little drinks” or one of the trio of nonalcoholic offerings.

Conceived by chef John Philpot, the food menu focuses on gastropub favorites like burgers, steak frites, Scotch eggs, and a porchetta sandwich served on brioche from sibling restaurant Extra Fine. Lighter options include a summery Little Gem lettuce salad with peas, hazelnuts, and a leek vinaigrette.

Keeping with the easygoing decadence of other Empty Stomach concepts, Double Standard also offers delicacies like conservas (tinned seafood), chicken liver pâté, and shrimp cocktail with a preserved citrus cocktail sauce. East Coast oysters are available individually or by the dozen.

Double Standard is now open Monday through Saturday, 12 noon to 12 midnight, following the sedate launch. Happy hour specials, available from open until 6 pm, cover dollar oysters, $2 draft beers, and $3 wells.