Independent Restaurants’ Pandemic Survival Toolkit: Thriving on Community Resilience: An Abstract


Marketing and Professional Sales

Document Type


Publication Date



This research explores community resilience and its impact on the survival skills and coping abilities of independently owned restaurants in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This rare phenomenon has provided an opportunity to investigate survival strategies during a pandemic. The Community resilience theory and related index provide the conceptual lens through which we analyzed the social and organizational systems that enabled restaurants to adapt, change, and evolve their operations post-pandemic to survive the unplanned, dramatic effects experienced by the restaurant industry. Our qualitative investigation with in-depth, semi-structured interviews of fifteen restaurant owners from multiple U.S. markets uses the means-end approach through the usage of the laddering technique. This study demonstrates both attitudinal and behavioral impacts on the restaurants and their owners, that were tempered by social capital i.e., the relationships that they had with community members including dedicated employees who were often viewed as extended family. Independent restaurant owners identified themselves as a separate, vulnerable group in the restaurant industry that not only had a high need for financial resources but also the resource of knowledge, collective organization, and a high need for a large social network. Content analysis conducted via NVivo connects the five community resilience facets: economic, infrastructure, community, institutional, and social. The findings determined that community resilience goes beyond independent restaurant owners, employees, and consumers. The significant theoretical implications extend community resilience to pandemics and beyond small rural communities that are typically impacted by natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. Practical implications indicate that independent restaurants (i.e., small to medium size businesses) can utilize community resilience to guide continued marketing efforts surrounding the recovery of the restaurant industry through world-of-mouth and information sharing, as well as future policies and support from key stakeholders including local and national government. Governments could consider both employee support services and financial support solely for independent restaurants and other vulnerable small to medium size businesses.

Journal Title

Developments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science

Journal ISSN


First Page


Last Page


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)