Office workers return, resuming business lunches

Business lunches are making a comeback in major cities as pandemic restrictions ease and employees return to the office. According to data from OpenTable, the number of lunchtime dinners in New York City has increased steadily between January and April 2022. While March saw a dip in the number of eating and drinking establishments, cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, and Philadelphia are also reporting a surge in the number of restaurants. OpenTable CEO, Debbie Hsu, said that the rise of hybrid work and returning to offices are key factors in the resurgence of business-related lunches.

The report also found that demand for in-person dining is increasing, recovering from the slowdown reported in the first half of the pandemic. Despite economic headwinds, people continue to prioritize dining out, with a rise in reservations being made at least six days in advance. The resurgence of business lunches is especially good news for cities like New York, which saw a forecasted loss of $12 billion a year due to remote working employees.

However, the rise in dining out is also creating economic headwinds for restaurants. Many restaurants are experiencing staffing shortages due to the coronavirus outbreak. As a result, many restaurant owners are still forced to reduce days of operation or reduce hours to avoid overworking their teams.

While employees may be returning to corporate offices and business lunches are making a comeback, there are still challenges. An earlier report from PYMNTS noted a rise in remote work fraud, with 86% of businesses saying that it is affecting their fraud prevention efforts. With the use of AI and chatbots becoming more prevalent, businesses are struggling to prevent synthetic identities, phishing emails, and fake personas from damaging their operations.

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