South Lake Union businesses welcome Amazon workers' return to office
Thousands of Amazon workers are slated to return the office, after three years of working remotely. It’s the news that downtown Seattle businesses have been waiting for, particularly shops that cater to lunch crowds.
Beginning this month, thousands of Amazon workers are expected to be in the office at least three days a week. There is hope that the presence of more office workers signals a return to life as it was before the pandemic.
RELATED: Seattle employers beckon workers back to the office. Downtown can’t wait
In South Lake Union, nearby businesses can already sense a difference.
“Oh yeah, they’re back for sure,” said Megan Hewitt, general manager of Rubenstein’s Bagels on Sixth Avenue.
Hewitt says business has been picking up with more tourists coming in. Having downtown workers has added to the store’s busy pace.
“We are seeing a big uptick in catering orders and stuff here, but we only get a certain amount of bagels everyday so once they’re gone, they’re gone and starting tomorrow a third of our inventory is already sold.”
Hewitt hopes to add a couple more positions to the store, but it’s been a challenge.
Across the street from Amazon’s Spheres, a line is forming to Yumbit, a food truck specializing in Taiwanese food. Gabriella Delgado is taking orders.
“It’s getting more busier every day,” she said.
Delgado says the owners are planning to bring in another person to help out. The streets don’t have the same volume of people compared to pre-pandemic times, but South Lake Union is slowly coming back to life.
“I hope this all means we’re moving forward together,” said Angela Ortez-Zarate, director of quick service development at Mamnoon Street and Street Eats.
Even before May 1, people had started to come back. But she says it hasn’t been consistent enough to warrant hiring more staff.
“We’re trying to see the patterns where we can and right now all we can see right now is the middle of the week is busier.”
According to the Downtown Seattle Association, worker traffic continues to increase. So far, March was the highest level of worker foot traffic, with more than 75,000 people since the start of the pandemic.