The business lunch is reportedly back in major cities following a pandemic-driven hiatus.
March was the sole exception, the report said, with Fridays that month nearly the same as the dining figures from last year. Cities including Chicago, Atlanta and Philadelphia also saw their dining numbers jump last month.
“With the rise of hybrid work and widespread return to the office, the business lunch is making a comeback in major U.S. cities,” OpenTable Chief Executive Officer Debby Soo said.
According to the report, restaurants are also enjoying a boost in in-person dining versus the first half of 2022, when COVID’s omicron wave dampened restaurant dining.
Soo added that demand for dining remains stable, citing the example of Mother’s Day reservations, where bookings made at least six days in advance had increased by 15% compared to 2022.
“People are continuing to prioritize dining out despite all the economic headwinds that we’re all facing,” Soo said.
The return of business-related lunches is good news for cities like New York, which warned earlier this year that its merchants were at risk of losing $12 billion per year due to employees working from home.
“If less income tax is being paid in New York City,” Comptroller Brad Lander said earlier this year, “then it’s hard to figure out how to capture enough value to maintain the subways and invest in the schools and keep the city safe and clean and all the things that really matter.”
And as reported here last month, remote work can have another — unintended — cost to businesses, putting them in greater danger of fraud. Eighty-six percent of businesses say remote work has negatively impacted fraud prevention at their companies, according to research in the PYMNTS report, “How SMBs Can Fight the Fraud Threats of Remote Work.”
“People are already using ChatGPT and generative AI to write phishing emails, to create fake personas and synthetic IDs,” Gerhard Oosthuizen, chief technology officer of Entersekt, told PYMNTS in an interview in February.
Meanwhile, people are continuing to dine out, as OpenTable’s Soo said, but the economic tailwinds restaurants are enjoying are being offset by staffing shortages dating from the COVID outbreak, as PYMNTS noted last week.
“There are still [restaurants] that are shutting down, not doing the full day that they would normally do and closing some nights so they don’t overwork the team — so maybe close a Monday, Tuesday night, but work people longer hours Friday or Saturday,” Paytronix CEO Andrew Robbins said in a PYMNTS interview. “It’s still a real problem.”