TRU student wants to be fed survey data on pandemic’s effects on Kamloops restaurants

After watching restaurants react to health guidelines that effectively closed their doors, Josh Parker has questions about where laid-off staff have gone, whether staff plan to return to the industry after it fully reopens and how customers and restauranteurs have managed their way through.

A Kamloops business student wants to know how customers, restaurants and their workers have tackled the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a pair of short surveys launched in June, fourth-year Thompson Rivers University business student Josh Parker is looking to gather data about the experience of restaurant staff and patrons alike in how they have dealt with restaurants during the pandemic.

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Parker, originally from Calgary, has been working in the restaurant industry since he was 15 years old and is set on staying in the sector, with plans to one day open his own restaurant — and part of realizing that vision is a business degree from TRU.

“I just love the industry and it’s my career path, for sure,” he said.

After watching restaurants react to pandemic-related health guidelines that effectively closed their doors, Parker has questions about where laid-off staff have gone, whether staff plan to return to the industry after it fully reopens and how customers and restauranteurs have managed their way through.

In the customer survey, people are asked to rate their experience with food takeout or delivery and if they are now comfortable returning to restaurants, along with a number of other questions.

Customer survey:
Employee survey:

Restaurant employees are asked if their work hours have been altered and how they have continued to support themselves — using government supports or leaving the industry for other work. 

With restaurants only recently being able to move to 50 per cent capacity, Parker said he has seen a shift in the workforce.

“Employees, at least from people I know in the industry, have moved on to jobs in other industries and don’t plan on going back to the restaurant industry,” Parker said.

He also believes that, going forward, restaurants will operate with a little more contingency planning and that unforeseen circumstances — anything from a burst pipe to a pandemic — won’t necessarily mean a complete cut in revenue.

“I think takeout and delivery could be a bigger part of all restaurants in the future,” Parker said. “The restaurants that are doing meal kits or grocery services, or just offering their products in different areas other than their own restaurant, could be very beneficial.”

Parker said he also also wonders if people might not be rushing back to restaurants right now, noting that with people not being able to eat out for nearly four months, they might realize they prefer eating at home more often.

“I hope restaurants return to full capacity and they return to the status quo in the next year, but I think that’s up in the air,” he said.

Another part of the research will include interviews by questionnaire with 15 restaurateurs in the city.
The information Parker gathers will eventually be fed back to restaurant owners and other industry stakeholders.

Parker’s work with the surveys is part of an ongoing work co-op, which also previously led to an eight-month work term in Domtar’s finance department.

© Kamloops This Week



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