Effects of COVID-19 on Small Businesses in the Catering Sector: Measures for recovery

Effects of COVID-19 on Small Businesses in the Catering Sector: Measures for recovery

Diego R. Toubes, Noelia Araújo Vila, Sara Fidalgo Estévez
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6996-2.ch006
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This study focuses on the effects of COVID-19 on independent restaurant operators in small cities. Proposals for recovery are assessed both in terms of business operations and service provision and in terms of the governance measures demanded by restaurateurs. Semi-structured open-ended interviews were conducted with 38 restaurateurs in Ourense (Spain) during the toughest months of the COVID-19 pandemic. This study provides key operational and governance measures for the recovery of the restaurant sector and confirms the need to generate a greater connection and empathy with the customer and to adapt to the new situation of instability and uncertainty by incorporating new business models. More effective governance measures are needed in line with increased public concern for sustainability, humanization, and environmental conservation.
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The New Scenario: Humanizing Smart Cities

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has demonstrated how cities are resilient to the emergency, for example, pre-existing ICT infrastructure has made it possible to easily switch to a virtual, or less face-to-face, mode of working (Kim, 2021). In this regard, COVID-19 has intensified the use of technology to deal with unexpected scenarios. The use of technology, e.g. in social networking and videoconferencing, has prevented social isolation, despite mandatory physical distancing for health reasons. As discussed in the previous section, measures have also been put in place in the foodservice sector for contact-free customer service and home service.

Before the pandemic, there was already a social and academic debate about how new technologies were affecting the lives of individuals in cities. At the beginning of the 21st century, smart cities (see key terms and definitions of the chapter) became a favourite concept all over the world, widely cited and discussed in numerous studies in different areas of knowledge, and promoted by smart digital industries, think tanks and consultants as well as media and thousands of digital start-ups. According to Angelidou (2015), smart city strategies play a decisive role in how cities will choose to take advantage of technology to favour the development of innovation networks, healthy societies and dynamic economies.

Key Terms in this Chapter

ERTE: It is the acronym used in Spanish legislation for the furlough regulation procedure.

Smart City: It is the holistic vision of a city that applies ICT for the improvement of the quality of life and accessibility of its inhabitants and ensures a sustainable economic, social, and environmental development in permanent improvement.

Furlough: A period of time when a company stops employing someone, usually temporarily, because the company does not have enough money or enough work.

Governance: Governance refers, therefore, to all processes of governing, whether undertaken by a government, market, or network, whether over a family, tribe, formal or informal organization, or territory, and whether through laws, norms, power, or language. Governance differs from government in that it focuses less on the state and its institutions and more on social practices and activities.

Humanizing: In relation to cities and landscape, adapt them to human nature or use.

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