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Proposed Center City DORA

A "Sip and stroll" experience around Downtown and Franklinton

Are you a business looking to participate in the DORA? Click here to apply + find more information.

The Center City DORA has been approved by Columbus City Council as of April 29.
It is now in the State approval process.

Pending State approval, the DORA is set to go into effect on May 24, 2024.

About the DORA

In partnership with the City of Columbus, Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District, and the Franklinton Board of Trade, Downtown Columbus, Inc. is excited to lead the effort to bring a new Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) to Downtown Columbus, seamlessly integrating with Franklinton.  

We listened to the community during the 2022 Downtown Strategic Plan process, and their desire was clear: they want more – more activity, more shopping and dining experiences, enhanced connectivity within Downtown and to key neighborhoods. A DORA is a powerful tool to help realize the vision outlined by Columbus residents by increasing the vibrancy of the pedestrian experience, the economic impact of Downtown visitors, and the connectivity between Downtown establishments and events. 

What is a DORA?

In the State of Ohio, a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or DORA, is a specified area of land that a local legislative authority (city council or township trustees) has designated as exempt from certain open container provisions as laid out in Ohio Revised Code Section 4301.82. A DORA allows visitors aged 21 and older to consume an alcoholic beverage purchased from a participating business outdoors within the area’s boundaries, during designated hours, and according to DORA rules. 

Hours of Operation

The DORA would operate seven days a week from 11 am to 10 pm.

Participation in the DORA by a special event that takes place within the DORA boundary would be at the discretion of the special event permit holder and require approval by the City of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department as well as the DORA managing entity. 

Participating Businesses

Businesses who are approved to participate will be listed here. If you are a business interested in participating, click here

Frequently Asked Questions

A Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) is a specified area of land that has exemptions to open container permissions. In Columbus, this designation would allow patrons to purchase an alcoholic beverage in a labeled cup to enjoy outside the boundaries of the establishment. Consumption of alcohol not provided in labeled DORA cups would not be allowed within the DORA. Patrons may carry their beverage on the public right-of-way, parks, and other places not specifically excluded from the DORA. Patrons are not permitted to carry their beverage from one permitted establishment (restaurant, bar, or alcohol-serving event) into another, nor from one DORA to another DORA. 

Signage will be placed throughout and along the pedestrian boundaries of the DORA. A map with the final boundaries will be utilized heavily in marketing the new DORA. 

No streets will be closed as part of the regular DORA schedule. However, events that take place within the DORA boundary and choose to activate the DORA may include street closures. 

Event organizers can choose whether to have their event included in the DORA or not. If they choose to and are approved y the City to participate in the DORA, event attendees could carry one beverage, in a designated DORA cup, outside of the event perimeter, within the DORA boundary. However, attendees could not carry beverages (even in a DORA cup) into the event perimeter.  

By nature, DORA patrons are limited in the amount of alcohol they can purchase at a time. This means that the DORA will encourage people to explore the pedestrian environment. For example:  

  • A couple grabs dinner before a show at the Ohio Theatre. While walking down High Street to the Theatre, they could sip a glass of wine. 
  • Before exploring the street vendors at Franklinton Friday, a group stops at Land-Grant for to-go drinks.  
  • Wedding guests eat brunch on Sunday morning, grab a mimosa for the walk and explore the retail shops on East Gay Street. 
  • After dinner at Milestone 229, guests extend their visit by taking a drink to-go and exploring the Scioto Mile.

Examining other cities with similarly sized DORAs operating on a fixed schedule, there have been no additional security incidents attributed to the DORA. Both Raleigh, NC and Dayton have outdoor refreshment areas covering extensive areas in their downtowns, with participation from 65+ businesses, and they have reported no security issues since implementing these areas. Additionally, a 2021 survey of 25 DORA communities across Ohio determined that 96% reported no increase in crime as a result of the DORA. 

The Center City DORA requires approval from both Columbus City Council and the State of Ohio. Columbus City Council has approved the Center City DORA as of April 29, 2024 and is pending State approval. Upon approval, the DORA will start in late May 2024.

The Scioto Mile Fountain is open with normal operating hours 11 am - 7 pm today.