A public hearing Monday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at 800 Oak Avenue will consider a proposed Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) – a growing trend among Ohio cities and towns to connect entertainment venues within their borders by allowing patrons to walk from one restaurant to another while consuming alcoholic beverages in designated cups.
The area of the DORA is clearly defined and consumption of alcohol outside the DORA is not allowed. It is hoped the DORA will encourage more patronage of area restaurants by providing an entertainment district and encouraging diners to explore a greater number of the businesses in the city, rather than just one establishment.
“This is really an economic development tool,” says City Manager Lynn Tetley. “We will be the only community in Hamilton County to offer a DORA. We think it will be a regional draw.”
Changes in state law made the DORA concept possible after exemptions were allowed to the open-container law in 2017. Cities the size of Wyoming are allowed to have one DORA, which must be contiguous. To meet that designation, Wyoming’s DORA will run from CWC The Restaurant and Tela Bar + Kitchen along Springfield Pike to Wyoming Avenue and the restaurants in the Village Business District.
Several regional cities have already put DORAs into place and have reported positive community response. Mason, Hamilton, Loveland and Milford all have local DORAs. Wyoming would be the first, and smallest, community entirely within Hamilton County to put a DORA in place.
Tetley says she has spoken to city administrators in Mason to gauge how the DORA impacted residents there.
“They did not have any negatives to report,” says Tetley of the staff in Mason. “It has not caused problems or created law enforcement issues. It has only enhanced local business.”
Community Asked for More Adult Activities during the 2018 Master Plan Creation
Part of the consideration for the DORA came from community input during the 2018 Master Plan process. At that time, residents put a priority on more social activities to give adults a night out without leaving the city of Wyoming.
“We are responding to community requests for more adult social opportunities,” says Tetley. “This also supports our vibrant restaurants and makes Wyoming attractive as a destination for entertainment.
“This is not a desire to provide people with a place to drink in public, or to promote public drunkenness. It is an effort to make us regionally competitive and support our restaurants and business district.”
L.R. Hunley, co-owner of Tela Bar + Kitchen, says the DORA will enable restaurants to offer unique activities, such as progressive dinners or tailgate parties before Wyoming High School games, which he says are not as feasible without the DORA.
“I know people have expressed concerns on social media, but I can’t really see a downside to this,” says Hunley. “It will draw more business to the city and encourage visitors to spend more time here. It really will be an economic development builder.”
For the DORA to be enacted, it would require City Council and state approvals. The public hearing is the first step in the process and provides the community with a voice in the decision. For more information about the DORA, go to WyomingOhio.gov and look for the DORA heading in the menu bar on the left of the homepage.