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Restaurants are 75% back to normal, but NYC offices still mostly empty

Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman ruffled feathers when he slammed employees last summer for going to restaurants even as they shunned the office. “If you can go into a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office,” Gorman said last June.

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But his frustrations that workers are going out to eat — and not going into the office — appear to remain justified even nine months later, according to the latest figures.

Data from restaurant reservation service Open Table show that over the last week demand for restaurants was nearly 75% of pre-pandemic levels, its number crunchers told The Post.

But showing up at the office? That’s another story: Desks are only 28.6% full when compared to their pre-pandemic levels, according to data as of last week collected by Kastle, which monitors keycard swipes into office buildings.

One New York City resident who frequents restaurants — while still shunning the office — was quick to explain the discrepancy.

Less than 30% of workers have returned to the office since the pandemic started.
Getty Images

“Going to a restaurant for an amazing meal? Worth it,” this person told The Post. “Commuting to sit at a desk for eight hours when I could do that from the comfort of my own home? Not so much.”

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That’s not the company line taken by managers, some of whom are frustrated by employees’ unwillingness to get back to the office even as they partake in all sorts of New York City nightlife.

“If you can belly up to the bar at STK, you can be at your desk at UBS,” one cynical Manhattan-based CEO told The Post of the ubiquitous steakhouse chain.

restaurant is open
Restaurants are getting business back even as employers struggle to bring workers to the office.
Getty Images

New York’s office denizens might shrug off the new statistics, but city leaders has been vocal about their concerns. Since taking office last month, Mayor Eric Adams has emphasized the need to get people back to work.

“You can’t run New York City from home,” Adams said last month. “That accountant from a bank that sits in an office — it’s not only him. It feeds our financial ecosystem. He goes to the cleaners to get his suits cleaned. He goes to the restaurant. He brings in a business traveler.”

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