Bexley Patio: City Council approves DORA along East Main Street

Chris Bournea
ThisWeek
Lisa Bendler and her daughter, Lindsay Goodman, enjoy the afternoon on the patio April 28 at the Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern, 2158 E. Main St. The establishment is among the businesses in the "Bexley Patio," which is the DORA approved by  City Council on April 27.

Bexley City Council voted 7-0 on April 27 to approve legislation to create a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA), also known as the “Bexley Patio.”  

The DORA allows patrons of participating restaurants along East Main Street to take food and beverages outside of the restaurants’ boundaries. 

The DORA boundaries along East Main Street are between Alum Creek to the west and Cassingham Road to the east, bounded on the north and south by the East Main Street service alleys, and including the commercial properties on Drexel Avenue, just north of East Main Street. 

Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler said the city is planning to launch the DORA, which goes into effect 30 days after the vote, in mid-June after Bexley Outdoor Patio cups and signage are available.  

Kessler said he and council member Matt Klingler revised the ordinance, which originally was submitted to council Feb. 25, after taking into account feedback from council members and the public.  

At council’s April 13 meeting, residents expressed concerns that the DORA could cause traffic and parking congestion and excessive noise. Council voted 7-0 to table the legislation to give Kessler and Klingler time to revise the DORA.  

Since that meeting, Kessler said he’s spoken to residents about their concerns. 

“I’ve had very good conversations clarifying some questions and talking through it,” Kessler said. 

The version that council approved April 27 sets year-round hours of 4-10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The initial version proposed the year-round hours of 4 p.m.-midnight Monday through Friday and 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday and Sunday.  

Klingler said he consulted with restaurants that have agreed to participate in the DORA about the reduced hours.  

“The only one that’s open past 10 (p.m.) is Rusty Bucket. On Friday and Saturday, they’re open until 11 (p.m.),” Klingler said. “They vary in hours throughout the day, but 10 (p.m.) seems to be the common theme for most of our restaurants, between 9 and 10 p.m.” 

Kessler said he initially proposed the DORA concept in May 2020 to help local restaurants enable social distancing and stay open amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.  

Kessler said he and Klingler consulted neighboring communities such as Gahanna, Hilliard and Worthington that have implemented DORAs in recent years. Kessler said Bexley’s DORA is modeled most closely to Gahanna’s for the Creekside development.  

South Dawson Avenue resident Tim Pitts, the only resident who addressed council about the DORA on April 27, said he founded the Bexley Brewfest beer festival in 2019 and is familiar with how DORAs have benefited Gahanna and other central Ohio cities. 

“I would say unequivocally, from my perspective, that this idea, as it's been rolled out in other communities has only had a positive impact,” Pitts said.  

Pitts said he understands residents’ concerns about the DORA, but added, “I don’t think that we will see any of those concerns come to fruition. I think it encourages community. I think it encourages business, which is really important in our small city.” 

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