May 24, 2024 - News

Columbus downtown drinking zone set to open

A map showing proposed Center City Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area boundaries in downtown Columbus. The boundaries roughly span from Nationwide Blvd. in the north, 4th St. in the east, Mound St. in the south and Skidmore St. in the west.
Data: City of Columbus; Map: Axios Visuals

Downtown visitors can finally sip wine or taste a beer while strolling the Scioto Mile and Capitol Square.

Driving the news: A new Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) begins today in downtown Columbus and Franklinton.

Why it matters: The Center City DORA is meant to encourage more people to visit downtown in the evenings and on weekends.

  • Local leaders want to significantly increase the downtown population and make it a more pedestrian-friendly destination.

State of play: Columbus City Council approved the DORA last month, saying no public money will be needed to operate the program.

  • It joins over a dozen other DORAs throughout the region, including the Arena District, Bexley and Dublin.
  • This is part of a statewide program allowing people to openly carry alcoholic beverages with restrictions.

How it works: Licensed restaurants and bars inside a DORA boundary can serve alcohol in specially marked cups of up to 20 ounces.

  • Patrons can then leave and drink on sidewalks, in parks and in other public areas within the boundary, which is marked.
  • Drinkers have to dispose of their cups before entering another bar.
  • DORA rules are in effect from 11am-10pm, seven days a week.

Between the lines: Downtown Columbus, Inc., a private development nonprofit that will manage the local program, had previously announced today as a DORA start date.

  • But the state's approval was confirmed only yesterday, meaning there's still some last-minute preparation needed.
  • "We are in the final stages of distributing materials to participating businesses, happening in the next week," Downtown Columbus' website states.

Zoom in: A list of participating DORA establishments are not yet available. The application to the state noted that 80 licensed businesses would qualify to serve.

The big picture: The DORA boundary closely resembles a $100 million "urban pathway" project that will eventually loop around the area.

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