Patrons, businesses, city toast Dublin's first DORA

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group
Liz Ptacek (left), Mike Evans and Heather Cassels enjoy Dublin's new Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area on May 20.

The restaurants and retail shops along Longshore Street in Dublin’s Bridge Park are a frequent destination for Kyle and Alicia McGhee.

The husband and wife live in the Bridge Park development and are familiar with what it has to offer.

But they had a new experience May 20 – the day Dublin launched its pilot Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area in Bridge Park on the east bank of the Scioto River and in the city’s historic district on the west side of the river.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Kyle McGhee, who was enjoying a beer with his wife outside Urban Meyer’s Pint House, 6632 Longshore St, just as the DORA began at 5 p.m.

“I think we will go check out some shops (after dinner), and we can take our drinks,” Alicia McGhee said.

All alcoholic drinks in Dublin's new Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area in Bridge Park on the east bank of the Scioto River and in the city’s historic district on the west side of the river are served in these marked DORA cups.

The concept of a DORA is not new to central Ohio, but it was a new experience for the McGhees.

For example, neighboring Hilliard launched its DORA in 2017 and continues to expand its program, and other central Ohio communities have added DORAs, as well.

“This is my first time doing it. ... It’s pretty cool,” Kyle McGhee said.

Dublin’s restaurants are counting on that cool factor attracting not only the regular customers but new patrons, as well.

“(The DORA) is an amazing opportunity,” said Anthony Benson, who works floor support at Urban Meyer’s Pint House. “It will increase foot traffic in the area and bring in more tourists."

Pete Volker, co-owner of Market Bar, 6750 Longshore St., said he agreed.

Michael Vehlber, bartender and manager at the Market Bar in Dublin, enjoys a drink as he plays bocce ball in Dublin's new Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area on May 20.

“Having the DORA will make Bridge Park even more of a destination than it already is,” said Volker, as he and his business partner, Wayne Lin, played a bocce ball match at a public court adjacent to Market Bar.

Volker said they planned ahead for staffing and product in anticipation of the first three days of the DORA, which were May 20-22.

“We are excited for them to come,” Volker said May 20.

And those who came continued to swell after 5 p.m. on the first day of the DORA.

They included Heather Cassels, Mike Evans and Liz Ptacek, colleagues at CoStar, a real-estate company, who had the good fortune of a scheduled meeting at another business in Bridge Park on the same day the DORA launched.

“I have been to other DORAs, but this is incredible,” said Cassels, a Lewis Center resident who described what she saw as a more “community-based” event.

The scenes of people walking dogs, socializing, window-shopping and other activities added a layer beyond a DORA just for the sake of holding a cup of beer on a street corner, Cassels said.

On the other side of the river, Neil and Patte Widerschein were having wine and observing the scene at Bridge and High streets before dinner at the Pearl, 88 N. High St.

The wine was from Coast Wine House and it was the first time the couple had visited the establishment at 75 S. High St.

“So the DORA brought us to Coast Wine (House),” Neil Widerschein said. “We have been to the Pearl before and come to downtown Dublin (on other occasions), but the DORA got us out here (and) walking around."

Scott Dring, president and CEO of Visit Dublin, said he considered the first weekend of the DORA the success that was anticipated when it was proposed last year.

“The first weekend of the Downtown Dublin DORA accomplished what we had hoped with generating awareness of downtown Dublin and economic impact for the restaurants and retail establishments,” Dring said May 25.

“There was tremendous vibrancy and energy around downtown all weekend.”

Lindsay Weisenauer, a public-information officer for Dublin, said the city heard “positive comments” about the DORA's opening.

"The city has heard positive comments from the local business community indicating that the first weekend of the Downtown Dublin DORA was successful in generating more foot traffic and business," she said May 24. "We also received positive feedback from those who visited the DORA."

The DORA did not appear to pose any safety issues, either.

“Dublin police had additional staffing for the Downtown Dublin DORA launch," Weisenauer said. "Police officers were either working their normally assigned hours or on overtime. Dublin police did not receive any calls for service related to patrons of the DORA being outside of the permitted boundaries.

Dublin will continue to monitor feedback and activity for the duration of the pilot, which Dublin City Council approved April 26.

The state’s DORA program allows municipalities to establish specific times and boundaries for sites at which the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages are permitted in outdoor public rights of way.

The hours and dates for the DORA in Dublin are from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through August.

Sidewalk stickers like this one mark the boundaries of the new Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area in Dublin.

The boundaries of the Downtown Dublin DORA in Bridge Park are 6544 Longshore Loop from 6554 to 6791 Longshore St., 6520 to 6770 Riverside Drive and 4475 to 4595 Bridge Park Ave. 

In Historic Dublin, the boundaries are 8 to 16 E. Bridge St., 1 to 65 W. Bridge St., 6 to 138 S. High St., 3 to 108 N. High St., 34 to 36 Franklin St., 24 to 37 Darby St. and 20 North St

Boundaries are marked by signs when the DORA is active.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo