Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Business Administration


Diana Garza


Anthony Ojo


Ernesto Escobedo


Research Focus. The COVID-19 pandemic generated a major crisis for the restaurant industry in 2020 and 2021. The nationwide shutdown resulted in widespread restrictions on social gatherings, significantly impacting this industry. Hispanic businesses were not immune to this crisis, and its impact had profound effects on small businesses.

Most of the research in this field has primarily concentrated on small businesses and entrepreneurship under favorable circumstances, highlighting factors such as entrepreneurial drive, maximizing profits, taking risks, developing ideas, and promoting fair competition. Consequently, the current body of research is insufficient and fails to address the specific experiences of minority small business owners in South Central Texas during a crisis, such as a pandemic.

This phenomenological study aimed to investigate how Hispanic small business restaurant owners in South Central Texas experienced the pandemic and what strategies they implemented during this crisis. The study utilized the Organizational Learning Theory and Protection Motivation Theory as theoretical frameworks to better understand the effects on operational and financial aspects during COVID-19 and what actions these small businesses implemented to survive during the pandemic.

Research Method. The study postulated three research questions. The first question asked, What were the most common motivational drivers that were the catalyst for Hispanic small business restaurant owners to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic?” The second question addressed the following: What were the most common organizational learning factors that influenced Hispanic small business restaurant owners during the COVID-19 pandemic? The third and final question asked, What financial resources and operational strategies do Hispanic small business restaurant owners use to adapt during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic? The participants were taken from a selective sample of Hispanic business owners from various markets across South Central Texas (Bexar County, Comal County, Guadalupe County). Ethical acquisition of narrative data was ensured through one-on-one semi-structured interviews with each participant and analyzed using NVivo software. An analysis of the strategic leadership used during the pandemic resulted in five themes. Seven additional themes were revealed when examining the experiences Hispanic small business restaurant owners faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research Findings. The study’s findings assert that many Hispanic small business restaurant owners were able to navigate the stressful circumstances brought about by the pandemic, in large part due to the support received from the community. The primary factor that influenced Hispanic-owned restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic was their ability to adjust to difficult conditions to sustain their operations. The study revealed that restaurants that successfully modified their operations to mitigate the pandemic's effects were able to continue their business activities.

Conclusions From Research. The study’s findings validate the theoretical framework that Hispanic small business restaurant owners adapted to the challenges of COVID-19. They achieved this by recognizing motivational factors, incorporating organizational learning elements, and implementing operational strategies to sustain their operations. The study highlights the crucial role of financial resources and adaptable and proactive operational strategies to continue operations during a crisis such as a pandemic. This study provides valuable insights into the comprehensive nature of crisis management for small businesses, particularly by exploring the motivations of restaurant owners to survive during challenging times. The findings of this study have the potential to assist small business restaurant owners in acquiring knowledge and formulating sustainable business strategies.