In office catering, sushi Wednesdays replace pizza Fridays

Such orders, usually large and paid for with company money, have long been a way for restaurants and food businesses to increase sales and keep their spaces and staff occupied during slow service hours, including lunch; Lunchtime catering orders can be placed before the first lunch guests enter the dining room.

These orders have not disappeared, but they are different. And employers are discovering new motivations for providing food in the workplace. They schedule catered breakfasts to get people on time and deliver hot pretzels to offices, to build excitement and motivate FOMO-inducing social posts. They order chef-designed meals and sushi, instead of just pizza and bagels.

Companies are looking to make great food part of the appeal to get employees to come to the office.

“Food is easy to get,” said Liz Solomon Dwyer, whose Brooklyn-based King David Tacos provides breakfast tacos for meetings with clients and city crews.

Office attendance is still low. At the end of October, about 28% of Manhattan office workers were on average on weekdays, and only 8% were every day, according to the New York City Partnership, which polls top employers. .

If the experiences of caterers are one measure, populations in the Friday workplace are particularly sparse.

Solomon Dwyer said that before the pandemic, when his business was much smaller, it delivered around 10 orders every Friday. Now there are no more.

Nationwide, lunch orders at restaurants using the BentoBox technology platform were 8% lower on Fridays between May and September of this year, compared to the same weekday in the first four months of the year. 2021.

Instead of Friday staples, businesses can branch out into the types of kitchens and the days they order.

Mondays and Wednesdays are best for breakfast tacos, Solomon Dwyer said, adding that his customers love catered breakfasts because they encourage on-time arrivals.

MakiMaki, a take-out sushi restaurant with two locations in Midtown, said restaurant orders had boosted activity in recent months. Sugarfish, the Los Angeles-based sushi chain with multiple branches in New York City, has been busy with orders at its branches on E. 53rd St. and Lexington Ave. and W. 56th and Broadway, said co-founder Lele Massimini. “Especially since more and more people are returning to the offices, we have seen more customers order from our downtown stores,” said Massimini.

At Great Performances, a Bronx-based restaurant company, companies are asking to create special moments, according to Jennifer McMahon Eliot, vice president of strategic partnerships. A few options: a cart that distributes hot pretzels to offices, a pop-up hot chocolate station or a meeting with a famous chef.

The strategy, she said, is to get employees to post on social media or tell their colleagues about special times, creating excitement about returning to the workplace.

Members of the New York City Partnership don’t expect a full return from the office anytime soon. The organization predicts that only 49% of workers will be in the office on an average weekday by January 30, 2022.

Grossman said Upside’s newest location on E. 40th St. has always been hoping for a rush for corporate orders since it opened over the summer. Although locals discovered his pizza, office managers in buildings surrounding Upside’s new location in Midtown on E. 40th St. seemed oddly immune to the lure of fresh pizza, Grossman said. . Of the 50 buildings near the site, he expected at least one company in each to order lunch each day, but so far that has not been the case.

Some caterers report that the holiday season offers a pickup in sales.

At Eataly, catering has returned to 2019 levels, if not slightly above, said North American Vice President Raffaele Piarulle, especially as the holidays approach. “Companies with offices near Eataly are certainly looking for benefits for their team, and we are well positioned and excited to be one of those benefits,” he said.

For December, BentoBox said it has already seen restaurant orders doubling – not just in offices but also for social occasions – compared to the same period last year.

Solomon Dwyer said she was starting to see holiday orders coming in, having received zero last year. While breakfast tacos don’t seem like a typical party dish, she said, her customers bring in the tacos for the morning.

“December is our biggest catering month,” said Solomon Dwyer. “People eat and they spend.”

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