Restaurants anticipate spike in business with state workers returning to office

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – Working from home will soon become a thing of the past for state employees. Governor Glenn Youngkin announced a new policy to bring them back to work in person this summer.

While some state workers are not happy with the change, several downtown restaurants are excited about the increase in foot traffic. With more people working from home during the pandemic, many restaurants have seen fewer customers during lunch hours. Some restaurant workers say that business will improve with more people working downtown.

Jo-Jo’s Famous Pizza in downtown Richmond is looking forward to the change after the pizza shop almost had to shut down one of its locations during the pandemic.

“That’s why I had to open the other location in Midlothian because things were so bad here that I was afraid I wasn’t going to make it,” said Enrico Armetta.

Fewer customers were coming in as many state workers started working from their living rooms instead of downtown.

“That pretty much destroyed all of my lunch business, so (I’ve) been waiting and waiting for what now 2-3 years,” Armetta explained.

The pizza shop is now ready to welcome in more customers with state employees returning to in-person.

“I’m excited that everyone is coming back to downtown hopefully we can get back to normal,” Armetta said.

One vendor says he thinks steady business for existing eateries could also bring more options in the future.

“If everybody comes back to downtown, we can have more vendors because it’s just like us right now, and once you have like a whole full downtown life, it’s better for everyone,” said Street Vendor Matt Neagle.

Under the new policy, state employees have to apply for work-from-home options at their current agency. The application process is currently open and will stay open through May 20. The applications will then be reviewed by the first week in June. If the application is denied, workers are expected back in the office starting July 5.

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