Empty.

And depressing.

That’s the state of our local restaurants.

And it’s not their fault.

If you’ve picked up a meal from one of our local establishments in the last week, you know what we’re talking about.

Walking in is eerie.

Dining rooms are deserted.

It’s quiet.

Too quiet.

A young woman handling the cash register at one restaurant reported that she had been doing her homework.

A young man behind the counter at another, when asked how things were going, responded, “Slow, and boring.”

We have to do better. Our small businesses need us.

And this is not just about the business owners who are losing revenue every day that restaurants, bars and other establishments are closed. It’s also about their employees.

Orders need to be coming in to justify having employees in the building. And those employees need their paychecks.

Portland Mayor John Boggs last week urged residents to support local businesses.

“If we don’t,” he said, “we’ll be a ghost town in eight weeks.”

We now urge you, again, to do the same.

Yes, we can’t go out to eat. But we can order carryout or delivery.

By now, certainly, we’re sick of cooking three meals a day at home.

Most of our restaurants offer carryout. Some have even put together special family meals so you don’t have to rattle of the dinner requests of an entire household.

So, pick up the phone. Call. Pick up a meal.

And don’t forget our other businesses that have closed their doors during the coronavirus outbreak.

Do they offer online shopping? If so, shop away.

Do they have gift cards? Buy now and save it for a birthday, graduation or Christmas gift.

Or maybe make a purchase and send something special to a friend who is isolated in a nursing home.

There’s a comedian who always ends his show the same way. He asks everyone in the audience, even if they’ve already tipped, to pull out an extra dollar and leave it on the table for the servers.

“It won’t mean much to you, but if everybody does that tonight, it will absolutely change their night,” he says.

The same is true for our current situation.

If you order carry out or delivery for your next meal, it probably won’t make a huge impact on your bottom line. (And the non-perishable food you stocked up on will keep.)

But it will absolutely make a difference to our local businesses. — R.C.