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Remote Work Culture – How NYC Restaurants Adapt

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the way we work, with a significant rise in remote work arrangements. As a result, the landscape of office spaces has transformed. Thus, leaving many New York City restaurants pondering the future of their business. This blog post delves into the innovative strategies employed by restaurant owners to cater to the needs of work-from-home individuals. We explore the rise of backyard workrooms, studio sheds, and office pods as alternatives to traditional office spaces. Join us as we uncover how NYC restaurants are capitalizing on this evolving trend to bring their culinary delights closer to the homes of remote workers.

The Shift to Neighborhood-Centric Dining

With half-empty office buildings becoming the norm, restaurant owners have identified the need to adapt to the changing demands of their clientele. As more people choose to work remotely, the allure of fine-dining experiences in the bustling city center has diminished. Instead, restaurants are finding success by focusing on neighborhood-centric dining options. Serafina Hospitality Group, known for its expansive reach across Manhattan and beyond, is expanding its portfolio with a new subterranean sushi hotspot on the Upper East Side. This move aims to cater to the growing number of professionals working from home in the area.

The Rise of Backyard Office Spaces

One innovative solution that restaurant owners have embraced is the concept of backyard office spaces. By repurposing studio sheds or constructing purpose-built backyard workrooms, these establishments can create convenient and comfortable workspaces for their patrons. This trend not only addresses the need for proximity but also provides a refreshing change of scenery. Parched Hospitality Group plans to introduce an outpost of their all-day café concept, Isla & Co., on the Upper West Side—a neighborhood where remote work is prevalent. This strategic move aligns with the changing demands of their target audience.

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The Adaptation of Existing Spaces

To keep up with the evolving work landscape, some restaurant owners have taken a flexible approach by transforming their existing establishments. Serafina Hospitality Group transitioned their four Serafina Express locations into Cafe Serafina, catering to a broader range of dining preferences throughout the day. This adaptive strategy allows them to serve both remote workers seeking a casual cafe environment and office-goers looking for a place to unwind after work. By repurposing their space, they ensure they remain relevant in the ever-changing dining landscape.

The Impact of Remote Work on Office Occupancy

The prevalence of remote work has had a significant impact on office occupancy rates, with peaks reaching only 50%. Recent studies by New York University and Columbia University researchers suggest that offices will continue to remain sparsely populated due to the growing adoption of remote work. As a result, the traditional structure and predictability of office culture have been disrupted. Tom Rowse, PHG’s chief strategy officer, highlights the challenges faced by the restaurant industry as they navigate the uncertain work-from-home schedules of their target audience.

The Allure of Neighborhood Connections

In embracing the concept of backyard workspaces, restaurant owners recognize the value of fostering strong neighborhood connections. Parched Hospitality Group’s expansion of Isla & Co. demonstrates their commitment to becoming an integral part of local communities. By having multiple establishments, they aim to attract loyal customers who seek a convenient and comfortable workspace near their homes.

The rise of remote work culture has disrupted the traditional office landscape, compelling NYC restaurant owners to adapt their strategies. Through the implementation of backyard workspaces, repurposing of existing establishments, and a focus on neighborhood-centric dining, they have successfully capitalized on this emerging trend. By understanding the evolving needs of their clientele, these restaurants continue to thrive in the ever-changing business environment. As remote work becomes increasingly prevalent, the convergence of culinary delights and workspaces will undoubtedly shape the future of the dining industry.


  1. Gould, J. (2023, June 14). Empty NYC offices push restaurant owners to pivot to work-from-home hotspots. New York Post

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