Among the first questions typically asked by real estate executives searching for new commercial office space is “where can my employees go to eat lunch each day?” It is a reason why developers ring their buildings and business communities with multiple dining options. Now, with many restaurants closed or operating below capacity, those executives are grappling to find creative solutions to this age-old question.
Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) is offering an inspired answer timed with the delivery of WAYLINE, a five-story, 123,000-square-foot office building situated in Howard County’s Columbia Gateway Innovation District. Beginning early next year, tenants of WAYLINE, as well as two adjacent office buildings, will be able to enjoy freshly prepared lunches by accessing the Sweetgreen Outpost amenity at 6721 Columbia Gateway Drive.
“The overall context of WAYLINE [is] centered on the health and wellbeing of our tenants and their employees with a biophilic design that brings the outdoors in with natural lighting and greenery, and this food amenity enhances this mission,” explained Krysta Herring, Director – Asset Management for Corporate Office Properties Trust. “All of this planning occurred pre-COVID and this path seems especially appropriate given the renewed interest in healthy living.”
Employees will be instructed to place their order through the digital storefront on their app, to receive a fresh, made-to-order meal by noon via contact-free delivery. Each order will be hung individually at the Sweetgreen Outpost amenity located in the 8,200 square foot amenity space within WAYLINE, which also includes a community kitchen, multiple lounge areas and scalable conference space.
“Sweetgreen emerged as the perfect partner because the concept is hyper-focused on the utilization of seasonal ingredients, as well as locally-sourced food items,” Herring added. “Especially now, we are finding that employees are not particularly interested in leaving their offices to search for quick and healthy meals at nearby restaurants and grocery stores. Sweetgreen is recognized for its made-from-scratch food preparation model, and we are confident that employees will embrace the convenience and high-quality food items available.”
Arranging for daily visits of different food trucks, parked at the doorsteps of office buildings, is another method to bring innovation and variety to the lunchtime hour.
“As soon as the pandemic hit, I started receiving calls from landlords and owners asking about the availability of food trucks to serve employees working within their buildings,” explained Damian Bohager, founder of The Gathering food truck project, who has organized large-scale events at McHenry Row, The Rotunda and other sites. “Restaurants were closed for much of the year and only those with suitable outdoor seating were able to accommodate patrons, so employees continue to look for lunchtime options. Bringing food trucks to the buildings is a viable option that is growing in popularity across the region.”