DORA's debut in Powell has leaders, restaurateurs looking ahead to next time
With Powell’s first DORA event in the books, the city and local businesses will explore options for potential future events.
Downtown streets were busy June 27 and 28 with the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area in effect, allowing patrons of local restaurants and bars to carry and drink alcoholic beverages in the streets.
The event was held as a substitute for the Powell Festival, which was postponed in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
City spokeswoman Megan Canavan said city staff would meet with business representatives and other stakeholders to determine when the next event could be held.
“We hope to learn what went well, areas for improvement and what they would like to see as next steps,” Canavan said.
James Knott, who handles social media and marketing for Nocterra Brewing Co., said he was looking forward to participating in that process.
“We’re happy with how it turned out and would be comfortable moving forward with more of them,” Knott said. “I think there are ways we can work to make it better.”
“Some of my concerns, mostly with social distancing and the stress that adds to staff, played out, but I think we can work with the city to mitigate those things as well as adjusting some of the things we did,” Local Roots owner Jessi Iams said.
Dustin Sun, who owns Huli Huli Tiki Bar, said the lack of distancing also frustrated him.
“We tried hard (to encourage distancing) but it didn’t always work,” he said. “I think there are things we can do better, though. But that was really the only issue.”
Sun said the beautiful weather through the weekend likely added to the number of patrons, so much so that Huli Huli required additional DORA cups twice during the event.
City councilman Brian Lorenz said he was pleased with the inaugural DORA event.
“I feel the event went off extremely well for our first time,” he said. “The idea of the DORA is to serve as an economic driver, to bring residents to the downtown and frequent our businesses. Since so the area is so wide open, it provides residents the ability to enjoy our town in a safe manner.”
“We definitely saw a bunch of folks who came to the grab-and-go pour station and head back into downtown,” Knott said. “We had one or two extra staff and could maybe have used another one or two, but we were able to serve our regular customers and people in for the DORA.”
During a DORA time or event, specified holders of liquor licenses may fill specially marked cups that patrons may take out of the establishments and among the locations along streets and in other public spaces within the designated area.
Ohio municipalities have been allowed to create DORAs since 2015, and many central Ohio suburbs, including Delaware, Worthington, Hilliard and Grove City, have taken advantage of them.
Delaware, in particular, has activated its DORA for regular weekly hours to encourage patrons to visit its downtown while health guidelines are in place.
Lorenz, however, said he was uncertain if this was the best route to go for Powell.
“I’d like us to activate this more often. I really like the way Delaware does it, but I also feel the city of Powell has to make sure we have sufficient resources to ensure we are providing a safe atmosphere for the residents and businesses,” Lorenz said. “Generally speaking, though I would like to see ours open more often than not.”
“I feel like there was a certain percentage of our DORA customers who were excited because it was the first time,” Knott said. “If you do it a lot, it could dilute interest. But having a regular event has potential, making it something people could look forward to.”