Supply Chain Management


Widell, Robert

Advisor Department





Success; Business; Food; Sustainability; Restaurants; Health


Restaurants are at the heart of communities across the United States. They contribute to the local culture, provide space for families and neighbors to gather, and help shape the identity of towns, and cities. Restaurants should reflect not just the culture, but the values and priorities of the communities where they are located. Whether it’s in terms of the treatment of their workers, the environmental impact of their daily operations, or the health implications of their food, I believe that restaurants should reflect the values of a community. As a student graduating with a major in supply chain management, my project explores how we might redefine the notion of a successful business model in ways that take into account policies that are conducive to meaningful impact.

Business models have historically been taught to maximize profit, often at any expense. As noted above, though, the measure of a business’ success should include more than just its bottom-line financials. My project explores the possibility of developing a business plan that incorporates not only my knowledge of supply chain management, but also my commitment to values of justice and sustainability. It considers the ways in which people and institutions can and should demand social, economic, and ecological responsibility from businesses, as well as the ways in which those businesses might incorporate such responsibilities into their missions. In short, I explore whether a consumer economy like that of the United States is compatible with the values that many of today’s college graduates desire. Simultaneously, I place the project within the context of my own college and educational experience. As a college graduate from the millennial generation, I yearn for a meaningful career and prefer to work for a company that is committed to making a difference. Can consumer values steer the industry culture? How do I balance what I have learned as a business major with what I have come to value as a person? How have my experiences at URI brought me to this juncture? Let’s redefine success for a more sustainable restaurant industry.

The concept of sustainable restaurants is steadily growing. My research has found several establishments that are taking steps toward their own viable identities. The real obstacle is the consumer. Rightfully so, they expect a dining establishment that offers choice, value, taste and convenience. Must any of these expectations be sacrificed due to sustainability? One of my goals has been to open a sustainable fast food restaurant. This project has allowed me to understand the realities of making this dream happen, as well as to be a more conscientious restaurant consumer.