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After months of working remotely, teams are eager to connect in person, and sharing a meal or coffee break together is one ritual many coworkers miss. Innovative dining solutions ensure employees enjoy access to a wide variety of fresh, delicious food options and open-air spaces to eat these meals safely. 

These are four trends redefining workday dining that companies want in the workplace:

Food halls surge in popularity. Traditional cafeterias with buffets are being replaced with food halls, offering employees greater meal variety without the health risks of an open buffet. Even before COVID, Irvine Company has been at the forefront of this trend, pioneering innovative food hall concepts like UCI Research Park’s Herb & Ranch, led by celebrity chef Brian Malarkey, and Spectrum Terrace’s Terrace Kitchen + Bar with artisan culinary stations.

Easier to-go options. On-site cafes are expanding their grab-and-go options and adjusting their menu to support a full to-go operation without sacrificing fresh food and flavors. Pacific Kitchen at MacArthur Court in Newport Beach, for example, offers self-checkout kiosks so customers can efficiently order to-go items with minimal human contact. Milk + Honey, opening soon at Spectrum Court, will offer organic coffees, teas, smoothies to-go, perfect for powering an outdoor work session in the neighboring shaded courtyard.

Order ahead with apps. Dining Express, already in use throughout Irvine Company’s Orange County portfolio, makes it easy to order lunchtime delivery options. Fooda at Jamboree Center is piloting a new order-ahead service that allows companies to subsidize employee lunches with a centralized food drop location. Individually-packaged meals are ready together, reducing the number of delivery people coming in and out of a building.

Open-air dining space is the new break room. Having safe spaces where colleagues can feel comfortable eating lunch or chatting over coffee supports the social ties that boost employee engagement and strengthen corporate culture. Irvine Company’s open-air outdoor spaces are equipped with sanitizing stations, offer comfortable, shaded seating, and many are located near on-site cafes– a convenient option for teams to connect with confidence.

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