At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, many of our state’s scientists, government officials and businesses came together to search for answers to how day-to-day life should best move forward given the health risks posed by the novel coronavirus. This included a partnership between professors at Lander University and the College of Charleston, who since early spring have studied the perspectives of independent restaurant operators in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their findings were recently published in the International Journal for Hospitality Management, a top tier-1 peer-reviewed journal that is currently ranked third internationally in its discipline. Their study offers guidance and managerial strategies for independent full-service restaurant operators, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve.
According to Dr. Michael Brizek, interim dean of Lander University’s College of Business and lead author of the team’s paper, the attitudes of restaurant owners in rural areas of the state are surprisingly more optimistic than those areas of the state that are more reliant on the hospitality industry. “What’s interesting is that the more rural counties are the more optimistic,” Brizek told the Post and Courier earlier this year. “Rural restaurants are more supported by their local clientele.”
Meanwhile, restaurateurs in tourist hotspots, like Charleston and Myrtle Beach, tend to hold a less optimistic attitude in the wake of the pandemic.
“This should be a ‘red flag’ for restaurant operators because of the interrelated nature of businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry,” the team’s paper notes. “Particularly in tourist regions, restaurants need hotel guests, and other drivers of tourism visitation (e.g. golf courses, tours, meetings and events, and attractions). Independent restaurant operators should work together with community leaders, convention and visitors’ bureaus, and local restaurant associations to enhance the general appeal of the region.”
The team’s survey also found that 81% of restaurateurs favored the CARES Act financial relief programs, and indicated that federal coronavirus relief funding, along with the return of consumer confidence, were the most important elements of recovery. Nearly 70% of respondents said that their restaurant operations could recover if further financial aid were made available.
To read the research team’s full article, please visit: https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/international-journal-of-hospitality-management/vol/93/suppl/C
-Story by Graham Duncan, [email protected]