Worthington expands DORA schedule, participants

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Server Frank Barton brings fresh water out to Eliza Berts and Kimberly Gibson, both of Clintonville, on June 9 at the Whitney House in Worthington. The restaurant is part of the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, for which Worthington City Council has expanded hours and days in effect.

Worthington City Council approved an expansion of the city’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area after a public hearing June 7, adding a potential business to the DORA and expanding the hours that patrons may have an open container of alcohol within its boundaries.

Council President Bonnie Michael said the changes include extending the DORA’s hours to 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week and adding Chapala Mexican Restaurant to the list of participating businesses. 

Chapala Mexican Restaurant, which is not open yet, will be at 530 High St., according to city spokesperson Anne Brown.

However, Brown said, the restaurant's developers had not applied for a building permit as of June 7. 

The DORA rules previously allowed customers to carry an open container only with the right-of-way areas of each participating business and only during that business’ hours of operation. They also allowed people to walk within the DORA boundaries with an open container only during special events held by the Worthington Partnership. 

The changes will take effect July 1 and will be active for a 90-day trial period, Michael said, with a possible permanent extension when council revisits the matter at the conclusion of the trial period in September.

“We know that our small businesses in Worthington are struggling," she said. "And we know if we can bring more business to the downtown merchants that they have a better chance of surviving. In addition, we have had several years of DORA experience and have had virtually no problems.”

“From a marketing and tourism perspective for Worthington, this gives us an even playing field with some of our neighboring historic districts and restaurant areas,” Worthington Partnership executive director Annina Parini said. “So if people are deciding where to go to meet for dinner or lunch or drink, they know they can come to Worthington any day of the week, enjoy a nice meal and take their drink to-go perhaps and patronize our shops.”

Michael added that community feedback gathered online and elsewhere regarding the DORA expansion has been positive. 

Council introduced the ordinance May 3 and tabled it before revisiting it June 7. 

According to Michael, only alcoholic beverages purchased at a participating DORA establishment will be permitted to be carried within the DORA, and beverages cannot be carried into an establishment they weren’t purchased from because that would be a violation of local liquor laws. 

“They’re welcome to walk wherever they want (in the DORA boundaries). They can go shopping, sip and stroll,” Michael said. “They cannot take that drink into another local establishment because liquor laws don’t allow you to bring liquor from one place to another.”

The city’s DORA boundaries extend from North High and South streets to High Street and Green Drive, with a couple parcels added south of South Street, Michael said. 

The DORA does not include the Village Green, she said.

In addition to Chapala Mexican Restaurant, the DORA’s businesses include Dewey’s Pizza, the Whitney House, Old Bag of Nails Pub, House Wine, La Chatelaine French Bakery and Bistro, the Half Pint, Everest Cuisine and the Worthington Inn – which remains closed for ongoing renovations.

For more information, go to worthington.org.

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve