On the Up and Up
Rachel Karwaski is no stranger to the hospitality business. The owner and operator of Nyack’s hottest new restaurant, UP Lounge and Restaurant, Rachel has spent 12 years managing restaurants and countless hours bar backing, waiting tables, and doing “pretty much everything” that’s required to run a place. Now, after over a decade of saving money and operating other people’s restaurants, Rachel is finally ready to do things “her way.” According to Rachel, UP Lounge “has been (her) dream forever” and the young restaurateur is ecstatic to finally make it a reality and to share her passion with the community.
At three stories tall, UP Lounge is unlike any other venue on Nyack’s main street. The space feels gigantic and is laid out almost like an opera house; the second floor’s center stage nearly overhangs the first floor’s bar and seating areas so that every patron has great seats to that night’s act. A huge wrought iron staircase, a majestic mahogany bar, and enormous chandeliers dangling from a vaulted ceiling lend the space to what Rachel considers “a Great Gatsby vibe.” The second and third floors have balconies that overlook Main Street and are used mainly for parties and overflow. Rachel spent months renovating the space and that hard work has paid off. “I spent 60 hours changing old chandelier bulbs to LED bulbs,” she said while proudly gesturing to one of the beautiful ornaments.
The building’s acoustics are fantastic, making it an ideal location to regularly host local performers but also offering something different from other clubs. Instead of DJs blasting house music, UP Lounge’s patrons are treated to performances by live musicians like the Alphabet Swing Group. Stephanie has made it her mission to recruit a diverse set of local bands to play for her customers; visitors can expect classic rock groups, solo acoustic acts, or even a jazz band to perform while they enjoy dinner on a Friday or Saturday night.
The food is equally varied. Head chef Ronald Campanaro has created a tapas style menu that features dishes crafted from fresh locally sourced ingredients as well as wine from local breweries. The number one seller is Campanaro’s award-winning crab cake. He also serves stuffed clams, fresh scallops, and mouthwatering sous-vide duck. UP Lounge also offers a special brunch menu on Sundays and a variety of unique cocktails. Their small plates are perfect for splitting, though you might not feel like sharing; Ronald is a veteran of the industry, and UP Lounge offers some of the best food on Main Street.
In keeping with UP Lounge’s commitment to be environmentally friendly, the bar’s selection of local craft beers is only available on tap. Their candleholders are made from repurposed wine bottles, and their napkins, straws and take out containers are biodegradable. Even their menu is digital.
Rachel and her staff are all happy to be part of the Nyack community and proud to work with local vendors and talent. They aim to make UP Lounge and Restaurant a more relaxed alternative to NYC clubs, and they’re well on their way.