COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — As Ohio’s restaurant industry took a hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the challenges are hardly over as inflation and high fuel costs enter the equation.

Tony Tanner, owner of TB&G Meats in Columbus and co-owner of Grandview Heights restaurant Cleaver, is invested in several parts of the restaurant industry.

Although business has begun to pick up at his franchises, Tanner said the cost of fuel is hurting his businesses.

“It’s really the gas prices — I mean, this little van that we drive is doubling our gas costs, so we unfortunately had to pass that on to our customers just to stay alive really,” Tanner said.

Tanner delivers meat to several other restaurants in the Short North and beyond, where restaurant-related costs are also on the rise.

“There’s all these other hidden costs that people don’t even think about like nitrile gloves,” he said. “We were talking about earlier, we used to pay $30 a box, and now they’re $90 for a whole case of them, so that’s felt across every restaurant in the city.”

John Barker, president and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association said, “It’s just strange times I think for all of us — consumers, the public in general, business owners — it’s a very odd time.”

While restaurant traffic is picking up, Barker said people are still dealing with inflation which is at a 41-year high and impacts everything from food supply chains to gas prices.

Barker said he is hopeful that the U.S. Congress will act soon to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which provided federal financial assistance to restaurants, bars and other businesses impacted by the pandemic, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“In that (Restaurant Revitalization Fund) is also some money for places like shuttered venues, minor league baseball, gyms other businesses that really got hard hit by the pandemic, and that we believe will be up for a vote, in consideration next,” Barker said.

At Cleaver, Tanner said the restaurant has noticed more fuel surcharges with some of their partners, and Cleaver itself added a surcharge on the meat wholesale side, too. He expects it will be eliminated once gas prices come down.

Tanner said he’s keeping his eye on gas prices, adding that if it goes down, “That’s probably where we would feel an immediate little less pressure.”