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How America’s lunch habits at work are changing at restaurants’ expense




Chris Walsh serves a famous pastrami sandwich to Julia Batavia and Alison Govelitz at Greenblatt's in Hollywood.
Chris Walsh serves a famous pastrami sandwich to Julia Batavia and Alison Govelitz at Greenblatt's in Hollywood.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

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The days of sitting down to lunch over a full spread and a couple of cocktails are over.

Enter the era of delivery and desk lunches prepared at home.

A new article in the Wall Street Journal looks at the "dying tradition" of going out for lunch at work, saying that Americans made 433 million fewer trips to restaurants for lunch last year and the restaurant industry lost more than $3 billion in business in 2016 as a result. Why is this happening? Part of it could be an issue of workload - American workers are busy and many view leaving the office for an hour lunch break as a luxury they can’t afford. It may also have something to do with economics. Restaurant price points have gone up in past years to compensate for higher labor costs, so for many it’s cheaper to buy food at the store and make lunch to bring in. More people are working from home now than in the past, so another part of the decline could be from people who now work from home and don’t leave to eat lunch.

How do you do lunch at work, and why? How often would you say you bring lunch with you versus going out? If you do go out to lunch, under what circumstances?

Guest:

Julie Jargon, Wall Street Journal reporter covering restaurants and food companies; she tweets @juliejargon