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story.lead_photo.caption Lt. Brian Quick of Capitol Police, right, Randy Werner, Missouri House of Representatives Sargeant at Arms, middle, and Greg Sandbothe, director of operations for Missouri House, discuss security measures in place and testing that has already occurred leading up to Wednesday's opening day of the Legislature. Security is an important factor in the smooth running of day-to-day operations at the statehouse and keeping the visiting public and legislators safe takes top priority. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

Somewhere under that white plastic wrap covering a swath of the Missouri state Capitol, workers and staff are scrambling to get ready for the upcoming legislative session.

Both chambers of the Legislature are scheduled to convene at noon Wednesday.

Visitors are still encouraged to use the Capitol's Carriage Entrance (on the south side of the structure).

And Capitol staff are busy verifying all systems are working well in advance of lawmakers' arrivals.

Security personnel expect the building's daily visits to skyrocket from about 300 a day to more than 5,000 on given days. And they are ensuring all security devices are in top working order.

Greg Sandbothe, director of House Operations, said staff have checked sound equipment and displays in the chamber. He said the House postal service was busy last month. Its workload increased in early December, when lawmakers began early bill filing.

Operations include maintenance, inventory and supervisory people, two full-time workers and two part-time workers.

The operations office moves representatives into their new offices when necessary. Because this session does not follow an election year, the work beforehand has been a little lighter. Last year, staff had to move more than 130 lawmakers and their staff into new offices.

"We're in the process of switching gears," Sandbothe said. "It's a little nuts sometimes."

When the time comes, all hands pitch in, he said.

"We kind of all help each other out," he said.

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Chez Monet owner Joan Fairfax said she's beginning to get a handle on just how many employees are necessary to staff her restaurant as a legislative session begins.

The restaurant, in the west basement of the Capitol, is the only place in the building to buy food. The restaurant sells less than 30 percent of the meals in its offseason than it does while lawmakers are gathered, Fairfax said.

Fairfax opened the restaurant early in the 2018 session.

"We just started running and running and running," she said. "Then it dropped off in May."

However, just like clockwork, in January 2019 the business was slammed again.

Over those first two years, Fairfax has learned what really works for her customers. That includes a hot special every day — Monday's was hamburgers or cheeseburgers.

While the Legislature is out, staff prepare 30-40 of the hamburgers in a day. They prepare 100-125 during the session.

When session is out, the eatery prepares about 16 chef salads per week. When session is in, it readies 105 each week — 35 a day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, which are busy days on the state's legislative calendar.

"We pre-make sandwiches during the session. We start with 30 sandwiches packaged with side orders every day," Fairfax said. "We don't do any (pre-made sandwiches) when we're not in session."

The restaurant sits at a hub where hallways lead to House hearing rooms.

"It is fun here. All those days (when the House has hearings), they come through here," she said. "Every day is like a scary, crazy day."

The location of the entrance visitors should use to enter the Capitol was edited to be more precise.

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