AUSTIN (KXAN) — The 88th regular Legislative session will have a huge impact on many major statewide decisions.
In downtown Austin, it could bring back business to an area that’s significantly slowed down since the pandemic pause.
A historically popular spot for politicians to meet and eat is the Texas Chili Parlor.
Longtime owner Scott Zublin says that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, his restaurant was typically packed with people every day around the lunch hour.
Yet, ever since the pandemic shifted much of the workforce to a hybrid or remote model, there haven’t been as many folks eating out downtown.
With lawmakers set to meet Tuesday for the first time since 2021, Zublin is hopeful that having many more politicians, lobbyists and journalists back in town will boost his business.
“Our lunches aren’t quite as busy as they used to be since COVID,” he said. “So the Legislative session is going to fill in that gap because it drives up sales and it helps everybody out.”
Dating back to 2014, Visit Austin has seen a 3% increase in hotel occupancy during legislative session years compared to non-legislative session years.
KXAN also reached out to the Downtown Austin Alliance to ask about the economic impact of the legislative session.
Its president and CEO Dewitt Peart responded with the following statement:
“As of October 2022, downtown employee return to office activity was at 62% of pre-pandemic levels, but we anticipate this to increase significantly with the return of legislative workers, as well as the businesses adjacent to the Capitol that support the Texas Legislature.”
The 2023 legislative session officially begins Tuesday at noon and concludes on May 29th.