AKRON, Ohio — Bars and restaurants across Ohio will be allowed to start reopening this week, and not long after they do, the city of Akron is hoping to more than take advantage.
Mayor Dan Horrigan's office has submitted an application to make a portion of downtown a "Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area." The spot would allow customers at establishments in the Main Street Corridor (currently under renovation until July) to purchase alcoholic beverages and drink them outside beyond bar patios.
Horrigan released the following statement:
"Establishing an outdoor refreshment area in downtown Akron builds on our efforts to create a vibrant live, work, play environment along Main Street. As we all look for innovative ways to return to the activities and economy we previously enjoyed—in a modified way—outdoor entertainment and opportunities will play an important role in keeping us healthy and active. I look forward to working with our partners to support the safety and success of this proposal in Akron."
The Ohio General Assembly passed legislation allowing for the creation of DORAs in 2015, and as a municipality of more than 50,000 people Akron is technically allowed to have two. Although this area would be permanent, it could prove even more beneficial in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and an increased focus on social distancing.
Deputy Mayor James Hardy said:
"Originally, this initiative began as a way to draw people downtown to enjoy the newly renovated Main Street. In the post-COVID19 world, the designated outdoor refreshment area will create the added benefit of allowing bars and restaurants to continue to serve customers while enabling physical distancing."
Akron City Council is not expected to vote on the legislation until June, but should it pass, officials hope to have the DORA up and running by the next month. You can view the entire DORA application below (a map of the proposed area can be found on page four):