Delaware’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) is set to expand with the support of Delaware City Council. During Monday’s meeting, council voted to approve a resolution that will expand both the boundaries of the DORA and its hours, while also adding to the permitted list of beverages that can be consumed within the area.
The DORA was first approved by council in October 2017, but it was only approved for special events. The approved boundaries for the DORA were along Sandusky Street from Spring Street to Central Avenue, and on William and Winter streets from Franklin Street to Union Street.
Now, the DORA will also include the anticipated future developments on Spring Street when they occur on the city’s recently-purchased properties on the south side of Spring Street. In addition to the originally permitted beer and wine, mixed drinks will now also be permitted throughout the DORA.
Permanent hours will be established that will permit the DORA from 11 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. At its inception in 2017, the DORA was only available from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Hours were expanded during the pandemic to what, essentially, became a permanent DORA at the request of downtown businesses who were searching for any possible ways to increase revenue.
“In working with staff over the last three years and speaking with businesses, it’s been well received,” Assistant City Manager Kyle Kridler said of the DORA. “From a policing standpoint, they have had no issues. How I would kind of describe it to other communities that have reached out, it’s really more of a sip-and-stroll, family atmosphere. It’s not a Bourbon Street, spring break type of party festival. It’s really an opportunity for us to attract more visitors to our downtown and assist our businesses as they look to grow their revenue stream.”
Kridler said nearly all restaurants, bars, wineries, and microbreweries have pointed to the DORA as being instrumental in keeping their businesses afloat during the pandemic. On average, he said 60% of a restaurant’s revenue comes from its bar, and prior to the pandemic, the DORA had increased alcohol sales by at least 30%.
Abby Cottongim, the beverage and events director at 1808 and Speck, said the DORA program has been a “savior to our business,” adding the revenue numbers for the two businesses have proven to be even higher than the 30% Kridler suggested the DORA has created.
“We have a small space at Speck,” Cottongim said. “A lot of people were able to come in, grab a drink, and then walk down the street and go to other businesses and support those as well. I just think it’s created a great community environment for our downtown.”
Kridler said the city reached out to Ohio Wesleyan University President Rock Jones to make sure the school was comfortable with the DORA expansion to Spring Street, and his response was in support of the expansion.