The impact of the first and second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on food service operations

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2021-08
Authors
Bell, Shamon
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Kim, Jewoo
Jeong, Eunha
Tsai, Chin-Hsun
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Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management
Abstract
This study explored the operational and financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on restaurants during Wave One (March 15th, 2020, through June 30th, 2020) and Wave Two (July 1st, 2020, through October 15th, 2020). In addition, this study looked at how the pandemic affected restaurants based on if they were privately owned or franchised, the length of experience of the owner/manager, and the length of time the restaurant has been in operation. This study developed 22 survey questions to measure perceived operational and financial impacts and restaurant characteristics. The questionnaire was distributed to restaurants in Central Illinois, and 122 of them were completed. Of the respondents, 80.2% experienced decreases in sales during Wave One and 70.3% during Wave Two. There were significant differences between Wave One and Wave in the pandemic’s financial impact on restaurants, specific to the overall sales. Results also indicated operational changes specific to employees, menu, and seating were significantly different between Wave One and Wave Two. Further, the analysis results provide evidence that firm characteristics can affect the negative impact of the pandemic. The differences in financial impact between chain and independently owned restaurants were minimal in Wave One, but the differences were substantial during Wave Two. Additional results showed a significant difference in operational impact items between chain and independently owned restaurants in both waves. Experienced owners/managers were less financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic during Wave One and Wave Two than inexperienced owners/managers. There were significant differences in operational impact between restaurants with experienced and inexperienced owners/managers during Wave One and Wave Two. Restaurants with long and short lengths of operation had different financial performances in both waves. This study found significant differences in operational impact between restaurants with long and short lengths of operation in terms of operation time, menus, delivering and ordering, and seating in both Wave One and Wave Two. Research implications are discussed. Limitations and recommendations for further research are provided.
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