Despite the stormy weather Monday, business owners and patrons in downtown Jefferson City were all smiles as establishments that had been closed to public traffic due to the COVID-19 emergency reopened their doors.Gallery: PHOTO GALLERY: #JCMO reopens
"It was a little slower today because of the weather, but hopefully we're making people feel as safe as we can," Biggs said. "Everyone is wearing masks and gloves; and sauces are not on the table — you can ask for them, and we'll be glad to get them for you in individual servings."
Biggs said Sweet Smoke BBQ has removed many table in an effort to keep with social-distancing requirements.
For restaurants to serve dine-in customers, the state requires spacing of at least 6 feet to be maintained between tables, and communal seating areas cannot be offered to parties that are not connected. A single table must not consist of more than 10 people.
The Cole County Health Department recommends restaurants regulate the number people at self-serve stations, such as salad bars and buffets, at a time. They are also encouraged to provide personal protective equipment, such as masks, to employees and to continue to use drive-thru, pickup or delivery options.
"We've taken tables out so every table is at least 6 feet apart and some are even further than that," Biggs said. "Last Monday was the first day we allowed people to come in to pick up their carry-out orders."
Biggs said while the restaurant has been hurt by this shutdown, "we've been one of the restaurants that has done well. We're still able to pay our employees and pay our bills. We've had real good business through online, carry-out and curbside orders. That's kept us really busy, and there's a lot more to getting a to go order together than people would think."
State Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, is a frequent customer at Sweet Smoke and was happy to enjoy dining inside once again.
"I have a small apartment downtown, and it's great to see these businesses open," Hoskins said. "It gives those of us who live down here more options as well as helping out these small business owners."
It had been seven weeks since Yo Yums was last open for business on East High Street, and owner Lisa Kemna was glad to be serving customers again.
"We have a 75-person occupancy, so with the COVID restrictions 19 is the full amount of people we can have in here, and that includes our employees," Kemna said. "We've brought back three of our four staff."
Even with a potentially busy summer season, Kemna said, they won't be able to make up those seven weeks without revenue.
"At least we got back open in May," Kemna said. "We closed in March, and at that time we had a pretty good inventory of supplies because that was the time spring breaks usually start, and that kicks off our busy season."
Monday was the first day Downtown Book & Toy on East High Street had been open in six weeks.
"We had mixed feelings about it because we do have elderly customers who patron our store, so we've really tried to be conscious of social distancing and the wearing of masks," said manager CC McClure. "Being closed for six weeks, we haven't had any deliveries, so our magazines are way behind; but we still have some of the big authors, like Stephen King, and their new books available. It's quite a different atmosphere."
For the last few weeks McClure has been working to catch up with what the store will need. The book store at Capital Mall and all other Missouri stores associated with Downtown Book & Toy reopened Monday. Their lone store in Illinois is not open because that state has yet to allow stores to reopen.
"We didn't know what to expect, but we've been really busy today — a lot busier than I expected we would be," McClure said. "We've had a lot of phone orders. When we were closed we called all the people who had special orders that were hung up in the system, and most people said they still wanted their items. Many said they could buy it on Amazon, but they wanted to come here and buy it."
McClure said she feels Jefferson City is unique in that "we have the most loyal citizens for local shopping."
"Despite that, there's no way we can make up that time being closed," McClure said. "It will be a down year, but I think it will be OK. We're hopeful."