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Office return-to-work plans could make or break some restaurant business

Employers across the country are making plans to get workers back to the office as Covid-19 vaccination rates rise and pandemic restrictions relax.

These decisions could have a disproportionate impact on restaurant sales for businesses located near city centers and office buildings, according to celebrity chef Ming Tsai.

“We don’t know the new normal,” Tsai told CNBC’s Small Business Playbook conference. “Will half of the people come back to work and the other half will stay home, or is it two-thirds? Either way, it greatly affects restaurants that depend on the activity. lunch, because right now there aren’t any. … It’s based on happy hour and, of course, dinner. “

Tsai is the host and executive producer of the “Simply Ming” television cooking show and owns Boston Restaurant Blue Dragon. When the lockdowns began, Tsai partnered with chef Ed Lee, over a dozen other restaurants, and Kentucky Maker’s Mark distiller to use the staff at Blue Dragon to create meals and treatment packages. for catering workers who are unemployed or on leave.

But after the funding for this initiative ran out, Blue Dragon closed its doors. The restaurant has been temporarily closed for 11 months and its future survival is still unclear.

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Plans to reopen offices could make or break restaurants

Its location in Boston’s Seaport district was once advantageous. Before the crisis, Amazon had announced plans to create several thousand jobs in the region, thereby creating more customers for Blue Dragon. Now the location of the restaurant could be a handicap depending on how the local workforce returns to their offices.

“It was last year and really the next 12-18 months – we just don’t know what’s going to happen to this region and so many regions like this across the country,” Tsai told Kate. Rogers from CNBC.

According to a survey conducted by Arizona State University with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, 66% of employers plan to allow employees to work from home full time until 2021. Goldman Sachs and the New York Stock Exchange are among them employers who call workers at the office earlier.

Once the pandemic is over, 73% of employers intend to offer flexible working arrangements, according to the survey results. But the majority of those surveyed still want their workforce to stay in the office for at least 20 hours per week.

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