Hudson residents give positive reviews to new outdoor refreshment area

'Very successful' program, says city manager

PHIL KEREN Reporter
Hudson residents Dave and Karen Maag sit outside Aladdin's Eatery in the city's downtown enjoying their drinks in the new Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA). People ages 21 and older can purchase alcoholic drinks in special cups and consume the beverages outdoors.

HUDSON — The city’s new outdoor refreshment area received a thumbs up from patrons who gathered downtown to enjoy a cool summer evening on Wednesday

City Council in July voted to establish a 32.5-acre district known as a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) where patrons ages 21 and older can purchase alcoholic drinks in specially branded cups at restaurants and bars, and consume the beverages within that outdoor boundary. The first day of the DORA was July 24.

Residents who spoke with the Hub-Times on Wednesday said they enjoyed having a picnic with their family, supporting local businesses, and re-establishing social connections.

Resident Sherif Mansour was sitting at a picnic table with his wife, three children and other family members in the green space on First Street and Park Lane. He noted it was the second time in the past week that they had visited downtown.

“This feels like we’re making a picnic of it,” said Mansour, who noted that being able to enjoy a margarita with his meal was “very tempting.”

Mansour said they got takeout from multiple places and noted being able to purchase an alcoholic drink to enjoy in a picnic setting is an added bonus.

“If you want a margarita, get a margarita,” said Mansour. “If you want a beer, get a beer.”

Mansour said he felt the DORA is “encouraging us to come out more than we had been.”

Residents Kotty and Bill Lamb, who were sitting on benches outside Aladdin’s Eatery, shared their support for the DORA program.

“It’s great for the merchants,” said Bill Lamb.

He added he liked the additional tables set up on sidewalks for outdoor dining and noted anything that can be done to help increase businesses’ revenues is “great.”

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Kotty Lamb, who was sitting with her dog, Keno.

The Lambs said they live within walking distance of downtown and noted they felt the DORA was an added draw to the city. After being unable to get an outside seat at the restaurant they went to, they purchased drinks in branded DORA cups and were enjoying a pleasant August evening talking with friends. 

If the DORA had not been set up, Kotty Lamb said they would’ve walked home right after being unable to get outdoor seating at the restaurant. They then noticed the benches set up outside Aladdin’s. 

“We said let’s just get a drink,” said Kotty Lamb. “That was perfect.”

Betsy Forkin sat next to Kotty Lamb on the bench and noted that she was re-connecting with old friends, one of whom she hadn’t seen in 10 to 15 years. She said seeing old friends was, “good for your heart, “ and “good for your soul.”

Forkin said it was “fun” to sit outside and enjoy the downtown scenery as opposed to sitting inside a crowded bar. She added she felt “safe” sitting outside because people were not congregating in large groups.

Residents Sarah and Brent Forrer were sitting at a picnic table washing down their meals with drinks from DORA cups while their children Hadley and William rode their bikes on a nearby sidewalk. Sarah Forrer said it was a “perfect night” to sit outside, have a meal and visit with friends and neighbors who passed by either on foot or a bicycle. 

“It was nice to see people,” said Sarah Forrer, who noted they rode their bicycles downtown and then got takeout from restaurants. “We couldn’t believe how busy it was.”

Brent Forrer said he thought the DORA should be expanded to more parts of the city.

City manager says DORA ‘very successful’

City Manager Jane Howington on Tuesday told council the DORA, in its first 10 days of operation, had been “very successful.”

“it’s driving foot traffic downtown,” said Howington, who noted both the police and service departments reported no problems or concerns.

Howington praised Great Clips in Hudson for helping to fund the initial purchase of DORA cups, but she added that the city is already ordering more DORA cups because the supples are running low.

She said restaurant leaders would like council to consider extending the DORA’s time of operation by two more hours each day. The DORA is now in effect from noon to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Howington asked council to consider changing the hours to 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

She said the earlier start time would allow some restaurants to sell mimosas

“The 10 p.m. [ending time] would kind of coincide with the governor’s directive to close our bars and restaurants at 10 p.m., but it would also allow people to order their last drink at 8:30 or 9, and have time to drink it,” stated Howington.

She added the city checked with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control and noted the state agency is OK with changing the hours.

Council did not take any action on the proposal.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.