While there are no planned downtown events on the books for the remainder of 2017 that would to utilize the City of Delaware’s newly established Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA), the same can’t be said for the City of Worthington, which has implemented its own downtown DORA for two special events already this year with a third one scheduled for Nov. 30.
As Delaware officials wait to roll out the DORA, possibly for the first time in May 2018 during the New Moon Half & Quarter Marathon, Worthington officials are pleased with the impact the DORA — which was approved by Worthington City Council on June 5 — has had on their downtown area.
“For us, the DORA during events was an opportunity to remove the obstructive orange beer garden fencing and allow event goers to patronize our downtown merchants,” said David McCorkle, the city’s economic development manager. “From this perspective, I believe the DORA has been successful.
“We already had great events, the DORA just enhances them by allowing guests to move more freely and not choke off sales from downtown businesses.”
McCorkle said by having the DORA in use for this year’s Picnic with the Partnership and Market Day events, it not only helped to enhance the overall experience of both, but it helped drive foot traffic to the 30-plus establishments located within or adjacent to the DORA, which encompasses approximately 4.06 acres (primarily High Street and New England Avenue) in downtown Worthington.
He expects the DORA to continue to be an added bonus for upcoming events.
“I anticipate that the DORA will increase the attendance for Illuminating Shopping (Nov. 30) as well as the Worthington Chocolate Walk (February 2018),” McCorkle said.
In addition to allowing open containers to be carried around the DORA boundaries during special events, the city also sought passage of the DORA legislation to enhance outdoor dining in its downtown.
“Because there is very little private patio space in front of our downtown restaurants, businesses were unable to serve alcohol without fencing or without encroaching upon public right-of-way,” McCorkle said. “Now our restaurants can serve dinner and drinks within the public right-of-way without having to obstruct the sidewalk with fencing.”
Worthington DORA Details
Similar to Delaware’s DORA, Worthington requires the host organization interested in utilizing the outdoor open container district during a special event to submit an application for review by various city departments before a permit is issued.
As for the specially marked cups permitted within the DORA, Delaware officials hinted at using red plastic cups with the logo of the liquor establishment selling the alcohol printed on one or two sides. Ultimately, the look of the cups will be decided by Delaware Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski.
Worthington’s cup design takes a slightly different approach in identifying the eight liquor permit holding establishments in its DORA district.
“All alcohol is served in a plastic cup with color-coded ‘Please Drink Responsibly’ logos on them,” McCorkle said. “Each restaurant has their own color so that law enforcement knows where the drink came from, as well as to avoid people illegally taking drinks from one establishment to another.”
While Delaware is only permitting beer and wine to be sold for consumption in the DORA, McCorkle said Worthington doesn’t place any constraints on the type of alcohol that is served beyond what the Ohio Division of Liquor Control permits.
As it pertains to prohibiting where people can go within the DORA, besides the fact patrons can’t take alcohol from one liquor establishment into another, both cities are allowing patrons to enter retail stores with the specially marked cups as long as that particular store allows it.
“I’m not aware of any businesses in Worthington that have put up a ‘no alcohol’ sign,” McCorkle said. “Generally speaking, I think the merchants agree that if people are having a good time and enjoying themselves that they might spend more money.”
As for any unwanted consequences, McCorkle added, there has been “no issues at the (DORA) events,” but the city was prepared to handle any that might have occurred.
“We increased our police and service (sanitary) presence for the first event not knowing what to expect, but several officers were actually sent home early because the event was going so smoothly,” he said.
Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.