Business lunches are on the rise in major cities across the US, suggesting that at least some pre-pandemic corporate habits are returning to normal.
In New York, the number of seated diners on weekdays at noon climbed every month between January and April from the prior year, according to data from online reservations platform OpenTable. Only Fridays in March were almost unchanged from 2022.
Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle and Atlanta also registered gains during weekdays at noon in April.
“With the rise of hybrid work and widespread return to the office, the business lunch is making a comeback in major US cities,” OpenTable Chief Executive Officer Debby Soo said.
Restaurants are also benefiting from increased in-person dining compared to this time last year, when the omicron wave of Covid-19 kept people at home.
In New York, the 1 p.m. slot was also more popular every weekday in January, February and April, according to OpenTable. And Google searches for “business lunch” have hit their highest level in the past decade in recent months, with the most interest in New York.
Overall dining demand in the US remains relatively stable, Soo added. In just one example, reservations for Mother’s Day booked at least six days in advance were 15% higher than last year.
“People are continuing to prioritize dining out despite all the economic headwinds that we’re all facing,” Soo said.