More days approved for Grove City DORA

By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

The Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) in the Grove City Town Center had its annual renewal review. Not only did council recommend renewal, it approved an expansion.

“The DORA allows folks to buy alcohol and then travel with it outside in a designated area,” said Stephen Smith, Grove City law director at the May 18 virtual council meeting.

Last year, council approved a test run with the DORA that would need renewal in one year’s time.

Councilman Aaron Schlabach said local business establishments have reported growth from the DORA, not just the ones participating in the program, but the other businesses as well.

“They (business owners) have all expressed a desire to continue the DORA,” said Schlabach.

The DORA allows patrons (age 21 and older) to purchase an alcoholic beverage from an approved, liquor permitted establishment, then leave said establishment to travel within the DORA boundaries.

Originally the DORA ran from 2 p.m. to midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday. With the program renewal, council also signed off on allowing the DORA to now operate from Monday through Saturday with the same hours as mentioned.

“The DORA has been fantastic,” said Andy Furr, with the Heart of Grove City. “We have seen an uptick in feet on the street and it just continues to grow.”

The Heart of Grove City is an organization with the goal to promote business in the Grove City Town Center. The Heart of Grove City proposed the DORA to increase visitors in the downtown area.

“It has been a great resource to have in the toolbox,” said Furr.

The DORA allows patrons to purchase a drink at an approved establishment and have the beverage poured into a specially marked cup. Only beverages in DORA cups are permitted and protected from the city’s open container laws. No cans, bottles, or alcoholic beverages purchased from outside establishments are permitted within the DORA. Businesses authorized to sell alcohol in the DORA include Grandstand Pizza, Grove City Brewing Co., Hop Yard 62, Local Cantina, Parker’s Tavern, Planks on Broadway, Plum Run Winery, and Zassy’s Taproom.

When this program was initially approved by city council, some in the community were concerned about criminal or inappropriate behavior that can sometimes be associated with people being intoxicated.

According to Furr, there was just one incident last year that the police had to handle.
Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said there may not be many police issues, but there are issues. Namely litter.

The mayor said there has been half-filled beer cups left on the ground and even right by trash receptacles.

“These are issues that should be spoken to,” said Stage. “This is an issue.”

Stage said the business owners should be responsible to keep the area clean and safe.
Furr told city leaders that he would address the litter issue with the permit holders.

According to the law director, Ohio law requires a DORA review every five years. However, the city’s legislation states that the program would face a review each year.

Stage said he prefers to stay with a one-year review considering the expansion of days allowed in the DORA.

“We’ll see how it works out,” said Stage.

According to city legislation, the DORA will not be in operation during events such as Boo Off Broadway, the Christmas Celebration and Homecoming.

The Grove City DORA had been suspended with the shut down of non-essential businesses to stop the spread of COVID-19. Earlier this month, Governor Mike Dewine and Health Director Dr. Amy Acton gave the clearance for outdoor dining to reopen. As of May 15, the DORA has been permitted to reopen though establishments must follow state social distancing guidelines.

For more information on the refreshment area, visit www.grovecityohio.gov.

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