Shutdown threatens Detroit office 'support businesses' as coffee shops, restaurants falter

June 21, 2020, 7:26 AM

Destination dining spots -- the ones you might choose for dinner out -- aren't the only ones suffering in the pandemic-related shutdown. The dozens of small businesses that support an office-based workforce, from coffee spots to sundry shops, are faltering, too. 

This market on the ground floor of the Ford Building serves tenants' and walk-in needs. (Photo: Allan Lengel)

Crain's Detroit Business looks this week at downtown restaurants and other businesses that depend on a robust lunch trade, foot traffic and human presence to stay open. It's not just high-profile retail brands like Nike and Madewell that are hurting for customers. Many office buildings downtown have a market on the ground floor, where workers can pick up a newspaper, lottery ticket, bottle of juice or other small purchase. With thousands still working at home, and planning to continue, these enterprises face a difficult future. 

Chad Livengood writes:

Quicken Loans and its family of companies, the linchpin of downtown Detroit's resurgence in recent years, is taking a very cautious approach to bringing its 19,000 employees back downtown.

But company leaders also are mindful that their workforce created the demand for ground-level retail stores and restaurants in the buildings that company founder Dan Gilbert invested billions of dollars into in the years between Detroit's bankruptcy and the deadly pandemic that has claimed the lives of 1,425 Detroiters.

...Quicken Loans executives are "very focused on" maintaining the vibrant downtown that Gilbert's Bedrock LLC real estate company has spent a decade building, (Quicken CEO Jay) Farner said.

They're actively encouraging employees who are volunteering to come back to the office next month to spend time outside of their buildings during the workday — a subtle hint to get out and patronize Bedrock's struggling tenants.

Read more:  Crain's Detroit Business

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