DORA in Uptown Westerville to start June 11 after approval from City Council

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group
Uptown Westerville's DORA boundary runs from the Westerville Grill on South State Street northward to East Home Street and slightly east and west down College Ave and Main Street. The DORA will take effect June 11.

Residents and visitors to Uptown Westerville can expect to toast its new Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area beginning June 11.  

Westerville City Council unanimously approved legislation May 18 to create the DORA that allows licensed liquor establishments inside a designated area to sell alcohol in marked cups to adults age 21 or older; those adults then are permitted to take those cups outside the establishment, within the designated zone, during a certain time period.  

“From our perspective, it’s for the support of our businesses,” City Council Chairman Mike Heyeck said following the vote.  

Those who voted for the DORA included Heyeck, Craig Treneff, Mayor Kathy Cocuzzi, Diane Conley, Valerie Cumming, Alex Heckman and Kenneth L. Wright.  

The DORA hours will be 5 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays.  

The DORA boundary runs from the Westerville Grill on South State Street northward to East Home Street. It also runs slightly east and west down College Avenue and Main Street.  

Lynn Aventino, executive director of Uptown Westerville Inc., led the effort to work with merchants on the DORA with the hope that locals and tourists could enjoy an adult beverage from participating Uptown establishments as they sip and stroll through the historic commercial district.  

Cumming said she’s always wowed by the city staff but its recent work impressed her even more.  

“Recently, with the willingness to consider recyclable or compostable options for DORA, I’ve just been blown away,” she said. “People are throwing out ideas right and left and really brainstorming and really trying hard to find a solution.”  

Once COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions are relaxed, Cumming said, maybe the DORA can do more with reusable cups.  

“I’m really confident in this vote tonight because I know staff is on it,” she said.  

Rob Rishel, the city’s economic development coordinator, assured her that is the case.  

“I know Uptown Westerville Inc.’s Lynn Aventino has also been very active in looking at ways to do this better for review – hopefully, in the fall – by council for any changes we need.”  

Cocuzzi asked Rishel to reiterate for her that Westerville isn’t inventing the wheel with the DORA and that there are about 30 communities that haven’t had problems with overuse.  

RIshel said there are about 60 communities in Ohio that have DORAs, including Bexley, Delaware, Dublin, Gahanna, Hilliard, Powell and Worthington.  

“We discussed this with all of those,” he said. “None of them reported any issues of public drunkenness or excessive drinking or issues with the police.   

“Our own police force was consulted extensively and showed no concerns with that.”  

Rishel said the DORA will be monitored like a pilot program.  

“If there’s anything that comes up that causes concern, we’ll address it and bring it before you for changes, if necessary,” he said. “All those communities have said nothing but positives about their DORAs.”  

Rishel said the initial businesses that had expressed interest in participating in the DORA are Westerville Grill, Koble Grill, Tostadalicious, Good Vibes Winery, Jimmy V's Grill & Pub, Barrel & Boar, Asterisk Supper Club, Old Bag of Nails Pub, Cardinal Pizza, Uptown Deli and Brew and Meza Wine Shop.  

Kelli Allen, general manager at Asterisk Supper Club, 14 N. State St., said business has been picking up, which makes her happy.  

“I believe that this is partially because of the COVID vaccine,” she said. “Folks feel more comfortable coming out now.”  

Allen said she sees the DORA as a great opportunity for Uptown’s community of family-owned as well as corporate-owned businesses to flourish again.  

“Many new faces have moved into the area and are looking for places they can call their regular spot,” she said. “I look forward to seeing the people out and about, even if it is just outside.  

“It, at the very least, still gives an opportunity to those who don't feel comfortable to come inside, a chance to enjoy a cocktail and a stroll about in a really unique town.”  

In other council action May 18, council voted against hearing an appeal regarding the Westerville Planning Commission's April 28 decision for a conditional use permit that opens the door for a detoxification and short-term residential substance-use-disorder treatment facility at 737-833 Eastwind Drive.  

Voting against consideration of the appeal were Cumming, Heckman, Heyeck and Wright. Voting to hear the appeal were Cocuzzi, Conley and Treneff.   

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla