MUSCLE SHOALS — Miranda Ball isn't one to sit back and let others do all the work.

She's a self-described "just get it done" kind of person. 

As a small business owner, Ball said she realized when the COVID-19 pandemic hit there were some obvious steps she needed to take to help people.

First was to abide by federal social distancing guidelines and CDC protocol, which involved closing the dining room of her Alabama Bliss Bistro.

But, the biggest part of her business — selling ready-to-bake meals — remains intact. Customers have supported her business by ordering on her app, then picking up the meals.

During the past three weeks, Ball has seen another need among people — groceries.

After speaking with her grocery provider, Sysco representative Rachel Hillis, she decided to provide curbside grocery pickup for her customers, and even delivery with orders of $100 or more.

"I started my ready-to-cook meal option because of my own dynamics, realizing that as a mom, I didn't have time after work to go to the grocery store then go home and cook," she said. "I figured others were in this same boat.

"And now, I figure other people also want the option of driving up and having their groceries loaded in their trunk."

The new service is expected to begin Monday.

Here's how it works: Shoppers can download the Alabama Bliss Bistro app from the app store online. Soon it will also be available on Google Play. 

Using the app, customers can order their items and pay with their debit or credit cards. They'll be given a pick-up time after noon the next day.

No payments will be accepted at curbside.

The list of items available includes cooking staples such as flour, sugar and yeast, condiments, snack foods, crackers, bread and bread products, eggs and meats, including boneless/skinless chicken breasts and pork chops. 

Customers can also order disinfectant cleaning supplies and toiletries.

Ball will not be carrying milk as the price is higher than she's comfortable passing on to customers.

"There will be no price gouging," she said. "People need these things, and I'm able to help, so I'm certainly not going to do anything to hurt."

Hillis said Sysco isn't typically a retailer, but a wholesaler to restaurants.

"But when your business is cut in half at the wholesale level, you figure out ways to help your customers adapt. This is helping all of us, and it's keeping people from feeling as if they have to be in the fray of things."

Hillis said she knew Ball was the perfect choice for offering curbside groceries.

"Miranda's always thinking out of the box and is always willing to be of service," she said.

According to Hillis, Sweet Basil Cafe in Florence is also planning curbside service.

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