Worthington could expand DORA to boost revenue for local businesses

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group

Worthington City Council is considering an ordinance to expand the hours and areas in which a person may have an open container of alcohol in the city’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area.

The change would be part of a pilot program to increase sales revenue for businesses in the DORA boundaries and also provide more opportunities for the community to enjoy the city's downtown and local businesses during designated DORA hours, according to city spokesperson Anne Brown.

The amendments, which follow feedback that local small businesses provided to the ReBOOT Worthington program, include allowing patrons to have an open container anywhere within the DORA district on a recurring schedule and adding Chapala Mexican Restaurant, 530 N. High St., to the district, according to a city staff memorandum

The schedule hasn’t been determined yet, though the memo said options might include every day of the week or a schedule of Thursday through Sunday each week.

The current DORA schedule primarily is based on individual businesses' posted hours and boundaries.

“The broader view of the reason for doing this is to make our historic district more attractive to visitors,” Worthington Partnership executive director Annina Parini said. “We need to stay competitive in this environment, and most of the suburbs around us have already expanded their DORA, even though we were the first ones to put a DORA in place.”

Patrons enjoy outdoor dining at the Whitney House, one of the businesses in Worthington's Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area. The city is considering an ordinance that would expand the times and areas people may have an open container of alcohol within the DORA boundaries.

The amendments would be part of a 90-day pilot program. Council tabled the issue May 3 for a public hearing June 7, when council also will consider a resolution modifying the DORA regulations.

Council also cannot move forward with any changes until an application is filed by City Manager Matt Greeson.

“Until that (application) is filed, we can’t follow the rest of the steps that are in the statute,” council President Bonnie Michael said. 

Greeson said at council's May 3 meeting that he planned to file the application that week. 

Upon conclusion of the 90-day pilot period, city staff members would provide a report to council to determine if the changes should be permanently implemented, according to the staff memo.

The city's DORA, which extends from the intersection of North High Street and South Street to the intersection of High Street and Green Drive, currently permits restaurant patrons to carry an open container of alcohol within the “right-of-way” areas of each establishment, but they must stay within the establishment's boundaries and may have an open container only during a business’ posted hours of operation, according to Brown.

Patrons also are permitted to walk within “DORA boundaries with an alcoholic beverage purchased from a liquor-permit-holding establishment” during special events hosted by the Worthington Partnership.

Businesses in the DORA include Dewey’s Pizza, the Whitney House, Old Bag of Nails, House Wine, La Chatelaine French Bakery and Bistro, Half Pint, Everest Cuisine and the Worthington Inn. The Worthington Inn remains closed, with renovations in the works.

For more information, go to worthington.org

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve