A Startup Company Turns Restaurants and Hotels Into Offices

By Elijah Labby Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The pandemic’s catastrophic effects on the lives of just about everyone in modern society have created a work-from-home economy that has brought more flexibility into everyone’s working lives. But sometimes an employee may want to work from an office even when theirs is closed, and that's where WorkChew comes in.

An empty conference room.

What Is WorkChew’s Business?

WorkChew is a DC-based startup company that turns unused hotel rooms and restaurants into workspaces. And even though the startup business has found an exceptional opportunity amid work-from-home restrictions across the country, the company was actually founded in 2018, long before COVID-19 had even developed.

The idea is to allow restaurant and hotel owners to cash in on underutilized space by offering temporary workspaces for remote workers. In restaurants, the business owners can also throw in perks like discounted meals or coffee.

The company co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Allyson McDougal told Bisnow that the coronavirus has made the hotel business and the restaurant industry more open to their idea and has led to new opportunities.

"They’re more inclined and open to learning about alternative methods that might help right now," McDougal said. "The pandemic has opened up doors for people to really understand the value of the product in a very immediate sense where it automatically clicks."

The Startup Company’s Market Position

Right now, the WorkChew is operating in DC, Chicago, and Philadelphia, but the company has plans to expand to New York, Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Denver.

Building on previous successes, WorkChew has also raised $2.5 million in a round of startup company funding led by Harlem Capital and with contributions from Wilshire Lane Partners, Invictus Advisory Group, Techstars Ventures, RW Capital Investments Inc., Kabbage co-founder Kathryn Petralia, and Etsy co-founder Chris Maguire.

WorkChew and its investors may be on the right track. According to MarketWatch, investments in long-term leases in New York City have dropped by some 70%. A poll from the Partnership for New York City says that only 40% of New Yorkers plan to return to the office by year’s end.

How Americans Are Doing Business

It points to a fundamental shift in the way Americans work. No longer beholden to the traditional office infrastructure, it seems that Americans are more and more open to working remotely, a reality that bodes well for the startup company.

Maisha Burt, the chief executive officer of the startup business, knows this to be true. She said that the pandemic made those who work at home want a change and that WorkChew was able to meet their needs.

"They’re craving a change of scenery and wanting more social interaction face-to-face outside of Zoom calls," Burt said. "What we’re able to do now since you have this large group of people moving toward working from home but won't necessarily be working in their homes every day is to move those people into these hospitality spaces and help them monetize their underutilized space."

About the Author

Headshot for author Elijah Labby

Elijah Labby is a graduate of the National Journalism Center. He has previously written for Broadband Breakfast, a technology and internet policy website.

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