WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) - One of the biggest hits businesses have had to deal with in the pandemic is the loss of in-person office workers, but with some now back, it is helping businesses' bottom line.
A big milestone in the pandemic that businesses, especially those in downtown areas, have been waiting for is the return of office workers, wanting those customers back into their doors.
While it's started, it's nowhere near one hundred percent back.
Main Street Waterbury's CEO Carl Rosa says many of the offices downtown have their workers on hybrid schedules.
Some days in-person, some days at home. That's the approach Post University is taking.
In 2019, the university had hundreds of their workers move here.
Rosa is optimistic COVID-19 conditions will improve, saying businesses are anxious for office workers to fully return.
"I think they're hopeful and I also think that as we continue to move into through the Fall, into the Winter, as we start seeing the ramp up of employees coming back into downtown, I think those businesses are going to feel more comfortable that there are people down here," Rosa said.
Carl adds the foot traffic from UConn's Waterbury campus has also been helping.
Normally, Seven Villages Restaurant has a bustling lunch rush, but for the 32-year-old downtown Waterbury diner, lunch rush is now usually a lunch break.
One person Eyewitness News saw did place a to-go order and many called for pickup or even delivery.
Owner John Velezis says the orders are from his regulars, but only a few days a week.
"I have my usual customers. They're coming back, but they're only coming back like once, maybe twice a week and I think they're working at home the rest of the time. At least they show up for me for the one or two days, you know?" Velezis asked.
Empty storefronts are now encouraging passerby to open up, say, a bakery or ice cream shop.
All vacant spaces are marked with contact information.