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Durham Restaurant Survey

COVID-19 Impact on Durham Restaurants

Impact of COVID-19 on Restaurants in Durham, NC
Impact of COVID-19 on Restaurants in Durham, NC


This study explored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Durham, North Carolina restaurant industry between June-September 2020. Specifically, we wanted to understand the effects of COVID-19 on Durham restaurant revenues and staff employment. The report is accessible online.

Key Findings

  • More than 70% of the surveyed Durham restaurants lost at least half of their typical revenue by the end of summer 2020.
  • A majority (71%) of restaurants had to lay off employees, and 87% had to reduce employee hours.
  • Despite the  COVID-19 health crisis, 70% of restaurant owners could not or did not provide paid sick leave to their employees.
  • Supply chain disruptions affected 87% of the restaurants. Durham restaurants reported experiencing low supply and delays in delivery of many foodstuffs, such as beef, chicken, cheese, and fish, as well as an increase in prices.
  • Restaurant owners voiced their need for financial support (rent abatement, payroll support, and loan forgiveness) as well as different modes of governmental involvement; some wanted additional guidance and supervision, while others preferred no government interference.
  • Respondents reported that if the economic situation continued in the same way for more than one year (25%), more than six months (53%) or more than a couple months (22%) – they would not be able to keep their business from permanently closing–despite the availability of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) resources

This was a cross-sectional study and by its nature only able to capture the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Durham restaurant industry at a point in time. Further studies are needed to show the level of revenue, employment, business loss; as well as the resilience of the industry at the late stages of the pandemic and beyond.

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