Homebound : has independent restaurant take-out created new ‘At-Home’ gastronomic experiences?
This research explored dining experiences of homebound consumers in Ottawa, Canada and examined whether the COVID-19 pandemic allowed independent restaurant "take-out" to become a new dining experience among individuals. This qualitative study conducted 18 semi-structured in-depth interviews to identify changes in consumer behaviour attributed to events from the global pandemic. While COVID-19 began to impact the restaurant industry in March 2020, this research was conducted in August 2020, five months after the pandemic's introduction. Consumers and industry professionals offered insights into the current local-restaurant industry status, including business closures, worker layoffs, and mental health conditions. The findings showcase the importance of socializing, comfort, and safety, while emerging outcomes included the creation of new eating habits and experiences. Conclusions from this study can provide valuable consumer information as independent businesses slowly start to regain operations. Recommendations include repeating the research in a post-pandemic study to re-evaluate take-out experiences among consumers. Keywords: homebound, COVID-19, take-out, dining experience, restaurant industry, qualitative, thematic analysis, Ottawa, Canada