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Linda Kuncl had less than an hour to shut down on March 17.

"I wouldn't have even noticed if I hadn't been called," said the owner of the Hilltop Tavern, recalling the day Governor Kim Reynolds announced restaurants would only be able to order food to go. "I had one call on the cell phone and one on the landline (from an employee and a regular) calling me at the same time to tell me I had to shut down at noon."

In the middle of a building lunch rush, she had to start shutting down and inform a party coming later in the afternoon they wouldn't be allowed to do so. When she did eventually get the official notification in her inbox it was 7 p.m.

Since then, Kuncl and her staff, like most establishments, have continued having to adapt and adapt fast.

"We've never had credit cards because it's a lot of extra paperwork (and) I'm kind of old school," said Kuncl, the evening of Thursday, April 16 while finishing some paperwork. "Things are changing daily and we have to adapt daily."

Located at 1100 N. Dodge St., the Hilltop Tavern is one of the oldest taverns in Iowa City. Unlike some of the other long-loved local bars, like Geroge's Buffet and Dave's Fox Head Tavern, Kuncl has been able to stay open doing food pick up and — taking on another form of adaptation — delivery.

► More: A list of Iowa City-area restaurants still offering delivery, pickup amid coronavirus

► More: Lazy Boy owner reflects on eight years of Iowa City eats

“We decided to try Lazy Boy Delivery," said Kuncl. “We’ve only been doing that now for a couple of weeks and we really only had three or four deliveries."

Even as access to Hilltop has been limited to pick-up and take out by government mandate, regulars have found ways to congregate, however briefly, at the tavern. 

"We had five or six people (Thursday) sitting in the back of the parking lot," said Kuncl. "They were having a Hilltop picnic for lunch out there."

While government orders continue to restrict how much is possible, Hilltop still plans to remain open going forward.

Other old school Iowa City bars like George's, however, face an uncertain future, despite being institutions. 

Given its limited food menu, George's owners are not offering delivery or take out. Instead, the bar has done some deep cleaning and strategizing a way forward in uncertain times.

Foggy though the path ahead may be though, both bars are proceeding with some sense of optimism, as noted in a letter penned to its loyal customers by George's owners.

► More: From the archives: George's Buffet in Iowa City through the years

► More: George's Buffet celebrates 80 years in Iowa City

"We handle it like the Iowans that we are," reads the George's letter. "We take one day at a time; we find creative ways to do with less to stretch our unemployment checks; we yearn to discover a bit of peace in our isolation that we might be able to recreate in the future when our days of aloneness are over."

Much like George's, Kuncl — though perhaps strained — is optimistic for the future. She's most looking forward to the day she can embrace her returning customers.

"The restaurant-bar business is a roller coaster ride," said Kuncl, "no matter what."

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Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at the Press-Citizen. Reach him at ihamlet@press-citizen.com or (319)-688-4247, follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet

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