COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–As 2021 begins to come to a close, more COVID-19 concerns are popping up and making an impact on industries across the state. One of those industries is restaurants.

Ohio Restaurant Association CEO John Barker said, this year is better than 2020 and many restaurants are still on shaky ground.

Good days and bad days, that’s how Tony Tanner describes what local restaurants are facing.

“Overall, we’re better off, we’re still reeling a little bit,” said Tanner.

Tanner is the co-owner of the Cleaver in Grandview. He said foot traffic has slowed down with omicron concerns, and staffing shortages are his big worries.

“Finding people that wanna stay in the industry and then keeping them,” he said, ”The jump ship ability is amazing right now because so many people are looking at bigger companies.”

The result is that they’ve stopped serving lunch during the winter slow months. It’s something that’s happening everywhere according to the Ohio Restaurant Association CEO John Barker.

“We had that night comeback we were recovering through that summer and late summer. We were starting to feel a little bit better you know it’s just another of this that we’re dealing with right now,” said Barker.

Barker added supply chain issues and rising costs are concerning. He said restaurants are recovering slowly.

“We think that the restaurant industry probably recovered by about $100 billion in 2021, but we fell way short of where we were in 2019,” Barker said.

He’s calling for Congress to give aid by replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

“A third got it, almost seems random, two-thirds did not get it,” he said when talking about applicants. “So we’re asking Congress to replenish that to try to make these businesses whole and get through the winter.”

The winter months are typically slower months for restaurants in general. Tanner said he’s hoping for a better 2022.

“My Christmas wish is that COVID goes away so people can go back to normal, and we can fill the restaurants,” Tanner said.

ORA noted one way to really help restaurants through this time is to support them with takeout and also gift cards.

It’ll give them cash flow now and customers in the door later.