Table set for two

Workshop Series Designed for Restaurant Owners as They Plan to Reopen


Buffalo State College’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Hospitality and Tourism Department, and Continuing Professional Studies Office are offering a series of free virtual workshops beginning Monday, June 15, at 9:00 a.m. to help local restaurant owners recover as the COVID-19 crisis eases.

“Recovery and Reopening Your Restaurant during COVID-19” is a series of four interactive trainings that will provide restaurant owners and operators with the knowledge and training they need to adapt to changes under the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Susan McCartney, SBDC director. 

The pilot trainings, which were made possible by targeted COVID-19 funding, are open to experienced restaurant owners and continue June 22, June 29, and July 8 from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. Networking precedes each workshop at 8:30 a.m.

“We decided to host these workshops after hearing from so many distressed restaurant owners over the past several weeks who suddenly had to shut their doors and wanted guidance,” McCartney said. “Restaurants already operate on a razor-thin margin, so we wanted to do all we can to help them restart their operations in the most successful way possible.”

Restaurants and bars are included in Phase Three of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s four-tiered plan for reopening the Western New York region. Phase Two, which includes offices, real estate, and professional services, opened June 1. Phase Three is expected to begin around June 17; however, official reopening is determined by health metrics for each region.

Thus, the workshops are timely.

Industry experts, including Kathleen O’Brien, department chair, Lori Till, associate professor, and Donald Schmitter, lecturer, all of the Hospitality and Tourism Department; Jeffrey Hirschfelt, the new director of Campus House; and Cynthia Thomason, SBDC senior business adviser, will engage participants in the interactive educational program. The four training sessions, organized in a STEM format, will include the following topics:

  • Sanitation/Safety: Health standards, requirements, and food safety
  • Technology: Online capabilities, credit card processing, web ordering, web design, and social media
  • Engineering/Employees: New and additional functions for current employees, retraining, menu and cost analysis, and dining room layout changes
  • Management: Consumer confidence and behavior and delivery services

“My vision was to use STEM as the foundation to build a comprehensive program packed with essential information for restaurant owners who need help navigating the difficult process of reopening their restaurants, based on new guidelines and requirements of various local, county, and state agencies,” said O’Brien, who worked with McCartney, Thomason, and Kristin Fields, director of Continuing Professional Studies, to create the workshops.

“I have been fortunate to assemble a great team of experienced and talented faculty with the help and support of our advisory board and SBDC’s key business advisers,” O’Brien said. “I’m happy to add that a couple of Buffalo State alumni also will participate in a couple of sessions.”

All of the sessions will address the new requirements for restaurants at this time.

“In the first session, for example, we’re featuring an interior designer who specializes in restaurants. She will give tips on redoing restaurant space for smaller groups,” McCartney said. “She will share a number of steps restaurant owners and operators can take to ensure their restaurants are as safe as can be and also the most attractive to new and existing customers.”

To register for the workshops, please visit the Continuing Professional Studies website.

Photos by Bruce Fox, campus photographer.