Jun 9, 2022 - News

Seattle restaurants recovering slower than rest of US

Change in OpenTable restaurant bookings
Data: OpenTable. Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Restaurant bookings in Seattle have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels — and the hoped-for bounce back appears to be much slower than much of the rest of the country.

Why it matters: The health of the restaurant industry is one way to gauge how our habits have shifted since the start of the pandemic, as well as how our economy is recovering.

By the numbers: Restaurant bookings in Seattle remained 44.4% lower at the start of June compared to the same period in 2019, according to data from OpenTable, the online booking platform.

  • That's a far greater decrease than seen across the rest of the country, where bookings fell 11.6%.
  • Restaurant bookings statewide were down almost 24% from pre-pandemic levels.

What they're saying: Washington Hospitality Association president and CEO Anthony Anton said he doesn't think people are staying away from restaurants because of COVID concerns, noting that leisure travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

  • The bigger factor, he said, is that fewer people are traveling for business and to attend conventions, which deeply affects the restaurant business in downtown Seattle.
  • Labor shortages have also led many restaurants to reduce their hours, which hasn’t helped, he added.
  • Combine that with shutdown orders that lasted longer than in some states, and local restaurants have been hit hard, Anton said.
  • "Seattle office buildings are lagging behind a lot of the rest of the country in the return to the office," he added. "If you are a restaurant on the bottom of a 30-story building and the 30 stories above you are half-empty, it just has an impact."
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