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story.lead_photo.caption Julie Smith/News TribuneAmanda Jensen, owner of La Chica Loca at 306 E. High St., carries out an order to a customer who pulled up out front. Customers can go to a just-created website to place the order online, pay for it and follow the progress throughout the process. Upon arrival, the customer calls and Jensen will bring the food to the vehicle. JQ's on High at 911 E. High St., is currently offering carry-out orders only. Customers can begin calling at 9 a.m. to place orders. They anticipate later this week to have online ordering. Both locations of Sweet Smoke BBQ are open for carry out or curb service delivery. Customers can place a phone order and they will carry it out to the vehicle upon arrival.

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That's what many local restaurants are doing to protect employees and customers from the novel coronavirus.

For more news about the COVID-19 coronavirus, access the News Tribune Health section.

On the three-month anniversary of opening its downtown Jefferson City location, La Chica Loca closed its dining room to customers Tuesday. The business, at 306 E. High St., will offer only carry-out delivery and curbside pickup, owner Amanda Jensen said.

"I didn't know what decision to make, and it was keeping me up at night, but I decided to err on the side of precaution," she said.

Jensen and her husband and chef, Greg Atkinson, developed a website overnight that allows customers to order online. The website,, provides updates on when customers' food is cooking and when it's ready for pick-up or delivery. Customers can order several hours or even days ahead.

La Chica Loca offers free delivery for orders more than $25.

Customers have already adjusted to the change, with cars parking outside of La Chica Loca on Tuesday.

The restaurant is still feeling the negative effects of virus outbreak, though.

"Our sales are definitely down significantly," Jensen said. "There's just no one downtown."

Jensen and Atkinson plan to continue offering curbside pickup after the dining area reopens. Jensen said she's unsure how long La Chica Loca's dining area will remain closed.

La Chica Loca opened at its new location in January after the May 2019 tornado destroyed the business's food truck. La Chica Loca was previously in 202 E. High St. but had to evacuate after the building was declared dangerous in the fall of 2018.

"You just have to change and adapt to whatever is thrown at you in business and do it with a good attitude. That's really the only thing you can do," Jensen said.

In similar fashion, Sweet Smoke BBQ's locations, at 127 E. High St. and 3530 Country Club Drive, started curbside pickup and delivery Monday.

"We want everybody to feel comfortable so we thought to do that, it would be best to implement it as quick as possible," owner John Biggs said.

Customers can call the East High Street location at 573-415-2480 or the Country Club Drive location at 573-636-1007.

Biggs said he'll most likely continue curbside pickup indefinitely, but he is unsure if deliveries will continue after the coronavirus scare.

Both Sweet Smoke BBQ locations also allow dine-in. However, the restaurants no longer put barbecue sauces on the table and have started using wrapped plastic silverware.

"When the state officials recommend that dining in is closed, then we will (close)," Biggs said.

JQ's on High, at 911 E. High St., closed its dining area Tuesday and is offering carry-out only.

Owner Quinten Rice said he wanted to be proactive instead of reactive.

"We just wanted to try to do whatever we could to keep the doors open but to ultimately be safe," he said. "It's a tough middle ground, but I felt like it was the best thing to do at this time."

Customers can place an order by calling JQ's on High at 573-556-8922. Rice said he is also trying to set up online ordering.

Rice said he's unsure how long the dining area will be closed.

If the situation worsens, he added, JQ's on High may close temporarily.

"We certainly don't want to do that, but if that's going to be the safest thing to do, we will certainly do that to help protect our employees, customers and everybody else," Rice said.

Some businesses have already opted to close temporarily.

The Mission, at 915 E. High St., will close Sunday and remain closed through April, according to a post on the live music venue's Facebook page. Its goal is to reopen May 1.

"We hate doing this, but feel it's best for our patrons, staff and family," the post states.

The business is considering streaming a few live shows from its stage.

While some local businesses have already implemented changes, others are waiting for more direction from government officials.

Scot Drinkard owns Spectator's Bar & Grill, The Pizza Company and The Office Bar in Jefferson City, as well as BJ's Restaurant & Lounge in Linn. All four locations have not implemented changes yet because Drinkard is waiting for more information.

"This is a brand new situation for everybody nationwide, so we're just kind of going with the flow and going day by day until they (government officials) tell us what to do," he said.

Drinkard has talked with other local restaurant owners to learn what they are doing because of COVID-19.

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