CLEVELAND — Several years after health restrictions forced much of Cleveland’s workforce to pack up their offices and work remotely, downtown Cleveland wants those employees back.
“It feels like things are starting to come back – slowly,” said Roberty Piggery, who said he’s grateful to be back at his downtown office after a pandemic hiatus. “I really like working downtown, especially when it’s nice and warm. You get a chance to walk around, [try] different restaurants and you’ve got a little live music in the background.”
The Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) hopes to use a series of weekday summer events to remind other downtown workers about what the city’s core has to offer.
“People will remember why they like working downtown because it’s a great place to be. It’s fun. You can work hard and then get out, take a nice brisk walk and enjoy the city of Cleveland,” said Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin.
Thursday, Griffin joined Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, DCA team members and downtown businesses for the launch of a campaign to encourage workers to return to their downtown offices.
The kickoff event, called “Lunch in the Lane,” featured picnic tables, lawn games and live music in a closed section of Euclid Ave., near E. 4th St.
“We know there’s an interest in coming back. We also know people enjoy flexibility and they’ve formed new habits over the past two years,” said DCA President and CEO Michael Deemer. “That’s why we think what’s really important is to remind people what’s fun about being downtown, the experiences that make it special and that’s really what today and this campaign is all about.”
A 2021 DCA report found downtown foot traffic was back to 65% of its pre-pandemic levels. The organization has also seen office workers slowly, but steadily, returning to the office. Before the COVID-19 Delta variant influenced some employers to reinstate health precautions in late 2021, 58% of pre-pandemic workers were back in downtown offices. Deemer said lately, occupancy has been hovering around half of what it was prior to the health crisis.
“Our small businesses have remained resilient over the last two years and they need the office workers back. Those old favorites that you remember, they need you,” Deemer said.
At nearby Pizza 216, on the street level of The Arcade on Euclid Ave, staff said they’ve nearly rebounded to pre-pandemic business levels.
“We were able to keep our doors open and be introduced to new customers that didn’t have much of a choice downtown,” said General Manager Christian Anzel.
He explained the pizza shop also picked up downtown residents who were working from home. Now that some office workers are also returning downtown, he looks forward to business improving even more.
“I like being able to look out my window and see how busy it’s getting, people trying to return to their lives and business as usual,” he said.
To help accelerate the return to work, DCA in collaboration with City Hall and some of downtown’s largest employers, is offering tool kits, news and experiential marketing targeting office workers who have yet to return.
The campaign will feature new weekday events in downtown Cleveland, including:
Lunch in the Lane – an exciting weekday, lunchtime block party series from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with live music, outdoor seating, and games:
- May 26 – Euclid Avenue (Eastbound East 6th to East 4th Streets)
- June 2 – Warehouse District (West 9th/St.Clair - Johnson Court)
- June 9 - Gateway District (Huron from East 8th to East 7th Streets)
- Music on the Malls – a weekly live music and happy hour event on Mall C, June 8 – August 31 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
You can learn more about the attractions and events happening in downtown Cleveland by clicking on this link.
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