As the remote work trend reshapes the way we think about office spaces, one area often overlooked is the role of workplace dining. While large corporate facilities grapple with bringing employees back to offices full-time, smaller businesses in multi-tenant locations face an additional challenge: they lack control over essential onsite amenities like dining. However, Bon Appétit Management Co. has pioneered a solution that’s transforming workplace dining into a compelling incentive for return to work.
A New Approach to Workplace Dining
Bon Appétit’s innovative solution involves the creation of high-end public restaurants and event spaces in multi-tenant business locations. These venues offer a dining experience that goes beyond the typical business cafeteria or traditional office building restaurant. The concept has gained traction, with the recently opened Anecdote in South San Francisco’s Kilroy Oyster Point being the latest addition.
These amenity restaurants are designed to provide a premium dining experience, spectacular venues, extensive event spaces, and a range of socialization activities. They also incorporate high-tech convenience and added services such as fitness centers. Alison Harper, Bon Appétit District Manager, describes them as “amenity restaurants” built to enhance multi-tenant campuses.
The Amenity Gap
The concept of amenity restaurants addresses a critical need in environments where desirable amenities may not be practical for individual companies to provide. For example, life sciences and biotech firms often occupy smaller footprints with fewer employees. While these companies have the resources to offer onsite amenities, building a gym or a comprehensive food program might not make economic sense.
In response, real estate companies have started enticing tenants by providing amenities akin to those found in larger tech giants like Google or LinkedIn. These amenities include onsite gyms accessible to all tenants and restaurants open to the public.
The Post-COVID Surge
Bon Appétit began developing this concept several years ago, but it truly gained momentum in the post-COVID era. As companies transition back to in-person work, these amenity restaurants have taken on renewed significance. What was once a “nice-to-have” for driving occupancy has become a vital offering for tenants, especially medium-sized companies that may not need onsite food programs for employees who work unpredictable schedules.
One notable trend is that companies are increasingly willing to subsidize employee dining in off-site restaurants. Instead of providing food themselves, they offer discounts or pay for meals. This shift has gained traction since the pandemic as companies seek flexible dining solutions for their employees.
Sustainability and Community Impact
With sustainability as a core value, Bon Appétit’s amenity restaurants prioritize local sourcing, waste reduction, and energy conservation. These venues often source a significant portion of their ingredients from local farms, ranches, and food artisans. Sustainability extends to their building designs, such as LEED-certified, solar-powered structures targeting Zero Net Energy.
Moreover, these restaurants serve as community assets, open to both tenants and the public. Their location in multi-tenant clusters allows them to draw from multiple customer bases, making them not only financially viable but also community-centric establishments.
Creating Flexible, Social Spaces
Beyond dining, amenity restaurants like Foundry & Lux provide flexible spaces for employees to gather, socialize, and host events. They cater to a variety of needs, from quick service for those on the go to relaxed coffee bar atmospheres and formal dining options. Mobile ordering, combined with subsidy discounts, adds convenience to the dining experience.
In essence, Bon Appétit’s innovative approach to workplace dining has redefined how businesses can provide enticing amenities to tenants. As the workforce continues to evolve, these amenity restaurants offer a glimpse into the future of dynamic, flexible, and community-oriented office spaces.