COLUMBUS (WCMH) – With winter approaching and Columbus’ outdoor dining program expiring this weekend, restaurants are feeling the pressure as they work to keep their businesses running.

The Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) addressed some of those issues during a briefing Wednesday.

Restaurants like Harvest Pizzeria said the safest option to keep both their customers happy and workers healthy is by extending the outdoor dining plan. However, they fear that may not be enough.

From an increase in product prices to delayed shipments, it’s no surprise that restaurants in Columbus are taking a hard hit once again.

“Restaurant commodity prices are soaring with delivered cuts of meat,” said John Barker, president and CEO of ORA. “I’m talking beef, chicken, and in some cases, pork, up between 25 to 40 percent.”

Chris Crader, who runs Harvest Pizzeria, said the restaurant industry is having to make tough choices.

“I can’t raise pizza prices to 50 percent,” he said. “You would think I was crazy if I charged you $30 for a 12-inch pizza.”

And that’s the Catch-22 restaurants are facing: operating costs are soaring and employees are hard to come by.

“Many restaurants aren’t able to operate fully because of staffing with hours or food supply cost,” Barker said. “They’re closing down early when they’re not opening sections. Our restaurant recovery is lagging.”

ORA said it the outdoor dining program was extended, it could help some restaurants hang on.

“Let’s make it permanent,” said Tod Bowen, managing director of external affairs for ORA. “I think we might actually see that progress here in Columbus.”

While restaurants work to keep their doors open, they are asking customers to be kind and patient during staffing shortages.

An ORA survey found that 86 percent of restaurant operators have had difficulty staffing their kitchens. ORA added that this is forcing restaurants to limit their hours, making their ability to recover that much harder.