Two new Italian restaurants have opened in Easton this week.

They are opening during a very challenging time for restaurants. They also show the importance of supporting local restaurants and local businesses as we hopefully emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and all its economic and social carnage.

The Spaghetti Factory restaurant has opened at the Waterside Village shopping center off of Easton Parkway. It is a sister restaurant to Carmine’s on Kent Island.

Bluepoint Hospitality has also opened Roma Alla Pala — which specializes in Roman-style pizza — in downtown Easton.

Both restaurants show entrepreneurial energy and community spirit have not be squashed by COVID, even though the industry has been the focus of so many pandemic restrictions across the region and the country.

We should be supporting local businesses across the Shore and in our downtown areas such as Easton, St. Michaels, Oxford and Cambridge. But we need to especially support our restaurants throughout the Eastern Shore.

And that goes beyond the important jobs and tax revenue they create for our local economy. Restaurants add character and spirit to Easton and other towns across the Delmarva Peninsula.

They help bring day trippers and other tourists to our towns. Some of those tourists end up staying at hotels and visit shops and tourist attractions.

A stop at a restaurant in Easton or St. Michaels can turn into a visit to nearby shops and stores. One fun visit can encourage return trips and spending. Some of those visitors end up moving here. Some may relocate here to live, with more opportunities to work from home instead of battling big city stresses across the Bay or up I-95.

In places such as Easton, restaurants help highlight the historical and architectural character of our town. Locals and visitors can enjoy food and drink and appreciate the charms of the Eastern Shore.

We need to support existing as well as new restaurants as much as we can. Their workers and entrepreneurial owners have been hit very hard by the pandemic.

The state needs to start responsibly lifting and easing capacity and other restrictions as COVID numbers continue to improve. And they have been improving with hospitalizations down statewide and nationally.

Our town and county governments need to continue to step up for the industry and its employees.

That means more curbside and outdoor dining programs when the weather warms. It also means finding areas where taxes, fees and regulations can be responsibly rolled back. We also need to find ways to continue to help restaurant and other workers who have lost jobs and pay because of the pandemic.

This year presents an opportunity to show the creativity and innovation we have here on the Shore when it comes to helping small and local businesses.

It’s not an easy time to open a new restaurant or operate an existing one.

Let’s do our best to support those ventures and their employees here in our backyard.

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