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With patio season ahead, restaurants are expanding outdoor dining

However, managers say they can't expand too much due to staff shortages.

CLEVELAND — With summer months ahead and more vaccinations underway, Northeast Ohioans are starting to feel a little more comfortable out and about.

Things almost feel normal again, and with temps on the rise, so is the drive to get out of the house.

"It was probably the most perfect patio day," Great Lakes Brewing Company manager Allison Pryce said.

"[Outside dining] has its own vibe, and people want to feel that," Nicole Baker, experience specialist of Betts, added.

And businesses are bracing for just that. Betts in downtown Cleveland and Great Lakes in Ohio City are just two restaurants catering to business they're expecting.

"Patio seating was always a big thing for us," Pryce told 3News. "We actually set up our patio today with new furniture."

"Without those green houses, there is more space for us to have two more tables out on the patio," Baker said.

You can still on one, but green houses had been filling the patio at Betts.

"[Taking a few of those away] just opens up a few more seats," Baker explained.

Patios around Cleveland were busy Friday, and Pryce said they could serve more people. However, there's one problem: a staffing shortage.

"We really can't get back to any kind of normal until we increase the amount of staff," Pryce said.

RELATED: Restaurants struggling to find workers to meet resurging demand

Homa Moheimani with the Ohio Restaurant Association says such staff shortages are happening all over the state and the nation. 

"Filling positions that are open and available are incredibly difficult to fill," she said. "Employees throughout the pandemic have shifted to other industry sectors, because of those unemployment benefits [or people are reluctant to come back because of safety reasons]."

Regardless, managers said more recruiting more staff is nonnegotiable.

"We need that before we can open up all those extra seats," Pryce said.

Last summer, Great Lakes blocked Market Avenue for more, socially distanced seating. Pryce says conversations are already in the works with the city to bring that back again this year.