Hilliard expands days and boundaries of DORA for 2021

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group

Hilliard’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area will be a seven-day-a-week event this summer, with expanded boundaries and new businesses.

The DORA will be active from noon to 9 p.m. each day of the week from June through October.

The Ohio Revised Code allows for municipalities to create DORAs, establishing specific guidelines, times and boundaries in which the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages are permitted in public rights of way outdoors.

From 2017 to 2019, the DORA had been in effect only Thursdays or Saturdays in conjunction with live music events at Hilliard’s Station Park, 4021 Main St., but it was expanded last year during the pandemic to four days, Wednesdays through Saturdays, and eventually included Sundays.

The Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area boundaries in Old Hilliard have been expanded for 2021.

Hilliard City Council on March 8 voted 5-0 in support of a recommendation by City Manager Michelle Crandall to make Hilliard’s DORA an all-week affair.

Council members Tom Baker and Les Carrier were absent.

Baker was the only council member to oppose the expansion of the DORA when Crandall suggested it Feb. 22 in advance of the formal resolution that council approved March 8.

The new additions are Yabo's Tacos at 5242 Cemetery Road, the Makoy Center at 5462 Center St., Benito’s at 5286 Center St. and the yet-to-open HillGarten at 4131 Main St.

Abner’s Casual Dining, 4051 Main St., which opted out of the DORA last year after a disagreement about live-music performances, also is back in the fold.

But as the four new businesses and one former participant were added to the DORA, one charter member has been ejected from the lineup for 2021.

Sports on Tap, 4030 Main St., has been removed from the map City Council approved March 8, effectively creating an island within the 64-acre DORA boundaries.

Crandall said Sports on Tap could be added back into the DORA later this year if the business allays the city’s concerns, but for now it is on the outs.

Patrons enjoy a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area event in 2018 outside Sports on Tap in Old Hilliard. For now, because of ongoing problems at the establishment, city leaders have chosen not to include it as a DORA participant in 2021.

“Some ongoing problems” continue at the location, including calls to the police for fights at the bar even after City Council on Feb. 8 adopted a resolution asking for a hearing before the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control concerning the renewal of a liquor license.

In addition, on March 5, Franklin County Public Health, agents from the Ohio Investigative Unit, Hilliard’s city prosecutor and code-enforcement officers and others inspected the business, and health-code violations were recorded, said Assistant City Manager Dan Ralley.

Steve Sinay, a patron of the establishment, called attention to the March 5 inspection during the March 8 meeting.

Describing the inspection he told City Council that he witnessed, Sinay asked whether it “was common practice” or whether Sports on Tap was “being singled out (and) treated differently.”

Sinay acknowledged that problems have occurred there but appealed to City Council to hold the owner accountable, but in “a positive manner.”

As of March 8, Hilliard officials said they were not aware that MCHC Management Inc., the license holder for Sports on Tap, had yet to renew the license that expires July 1, an action that is required before a hearing date is scheduled, at which time Hilliard could oppose the renewal of the license.

Meanwhile, Franklin County Public Health on March 5 issued a warning letter to Sports on Tap for "continued violations" of the Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code.

The letter said that "due to repeat uncorrected violations and/or failure to main sanitary conditions, (Sports on Tap) has entered into the enforcement procedures of the food-safety program at Franklin County Public Health."

A follow-up inspection for all critical items was set to occur on or before March 10, and an administrative hearing has been ordered, according to a report from Franklin County Public Health.

According to a March 10 report from Franklin County Public Health, only one "critical violation" from the previous inspection was corrected: Food was found at the required temperature.

Franklin County Public Health has set an administrative hearing via Zoom for Sports on Tap at 11 a.m. March 18.

That initial report from Franklin County Public Health indicated violations that included a hand-washing sink without water at the proper temperature; the person in charge was unable to demonstrate proper knowledge of food safety; refrigerated food was not properly date marked; food was not being held at the proper temperature; employees were observed touching ready-to-eat food with bare hands; date-marked foods were not properly discarded when required; and food was not properly protected from contamination by separation, packaging and segregation.

As for the DORA, for the first time last year, the city had closed Center Street between Main and Wayne streets to provide expanded outdoor seating, placing tables and chairs commandeered from the city’s shuttered municipal pools.

Because the pools are expected to be open this summer, Crandall said, the city has purchased tables and chairs for $20,500 and will place them on the same section of Center Street, which will be closed to vehicles during the DORA season.

Crandall also told council members that city staff members are continuing to discuss a policy that would provide restaurants outside the DORA boundaries with a revenue stream – possibly derived from a 5- to 10-cent upcharge on the specially produced plastic cups required for use during DORA hours – to compensate businesses from outside the DORA boundaries that opposed the expansion because of the commerce they say it siphons away from them.

To be considered separately from the DORA, Crandall said, she planned to discuss a compensation policy for non-DORA establishments at the March 22 council meeting.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo