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Woman posts "carry-out only" sign in restaurant window

Hospitality Management faculty to research COVID-19 effect on restaurants and food-service industry

Amit Sharma, professor and associate director of the School of Hospitality Management and director of the Food Decisions Research Laboratory, along with colleagues in the department, have been funded by the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences for their project “Response Strategies for Restaurant and Foodservice Industry to COVID-19 Pandemic.”  

Sharma and research collaborators at SHM will develop and circulate rapid response strategies for restaurants and the food service industry to manage and minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Their project will focus on developing profit optimization and operation realignment strategies during times of under demand, surplus labor, and price constraints, and crafting messages that help alleviate customer concerns about food safety, food delivery, and eventually, welcoming them back to dine in restaurants. 

"Food service and restaurant businesses have become the backbone of communities as we fight our way through the COVID-19 pandemic.  But these businesses are hurting.  While they provide much-needed access to food for households, foodservice employees are facing reduction in employment levels, and worse, no jobs.  Owners are facing unprecedented uncertainty and are having to adapt with limited resources,” said Sharma. 

“Our research team’s objective is to develop strategies that will relieve some of this immediate pain for foodservice businesses and help them see beyond the immediate present and into the near future.  Unfortunately, the negative impacts of the pandemic will not be over soon.  The goal of our research is to help businesses recover quickly as life returns to a new normal.” 

In addition to Sharma, collaborators at Penn State include Breffni Noone, associate professor of hospitality management; Seoki Lee, associate professor of hospitality management; Chandler Yu, assistant professor of hospitality management; and Donna Quadri-Felitti, Marvin Asher Director and associate professor of hospitality management. 

As part of Penn State’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences has awarded seed-funding for COVID-19 projects university-wide. The projects span six core research areas, including social sciences, which address how COVID-19 has shaped health care messaging, public policy, and mental health beyond the immediate health impacts of the virus.

COVID-19 Research Response
Visit the Penn State Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences for more information on the COVID-19 research response and seed-funded grant projects.