Austin(KXAN) — The 88th regular legislative session will have a huge impact on many major decisions across the state.
In downtown Austin, it could bring business back to an area that has slowed significantly since the pandemic paused.
The Texas Chili Parlor has historically been a popular spot for politicians to meet and dine.
Longtime owner Scott Zublin said that before the COVID-19 pandemic, his restaurant was usually packed at lunchtime every day.
However, since the pandemic shifted much of the workforce to hybrid or remote models, not as many people have been eating out downtown.
Lawmakers are scheduled to meet Tuesday for the first time since 2021, and Zubrin hopes more politicians, lobbyists and journalists will return to town, which will boost his business.
“Since COVID, our lunches are not as busy as they used to be,” he said. “So the legislative session will fill that void because it drives sales and helps everybody.”
Going back to 2014, Visit Austin saw a 3 percent increase in hotel occupancy during legislative sessions compared to non-legislative sessions.
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 activity returning to the office is 62% of pre-pandemic levels, but we expect this to increase as legislative workers return, as well as businesses near the Capitol that support the Texas Legislature. A number will increase significantly”
The 2023 legislative session will officially begin at noon on Tuesday and conclude on May 29.