LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For the first time in two years, Humana employees returned to downtown Louisville on Wednesday.
While Humana's offices never fully closed, thousands of the health care company's roughly 10,000 employees spent the pandemic working remotely.
Humana's in-person return was welcome news Wednesday for coffee shops and restaurants in the area that missed out on that business.
Addison Durham, bar manager at Troll Pub downtown, said sales took a hit when Humana sent their employees home in the spring of 2020.
"It's been tough, but we've been able to get through," he said. "We've missed them."
Now that those workers are back downtown, Durham said he's expecting Troll Pub's daytime sales to rise by about 15%.
"It definitely shapes our lunch business," Durham said.
Blackbeard Espresso owner Stephen Young said he had to close down his shop for almost a year due to the pandemic and the lack of customers milling through downtown.
"It's been a heck of an experience seeing a pandemic through the eyes of a coffee shop," he said.
While his shop has been back open for about a year now, he said other coffee shops weren't as lucky.
"Business actually increased for us, oddly enough, because the competition completely left," Young said.
Mark Taylor, director of corporate and financial communications at Humana, said an average of 2,000 to 3,000 employees worked on-site during the coronavirus pandemic.
Taylor said Humana is having a soft re-opening for the first few weeks, inviting employees back but not mandating that everyone return at once. He said some workers have the option to work from home full-time, while others will work a hybrid schedule.
The company also has been upgrading workspaces, amenities and technology in both their Humana Tower and Waterside locations, Taylor said, to provide a more welcoming and "inspiring" work environment.