NewsLocal NewsHamilton CountyWyoming


Wyoming quietly launches outdoor refreshment area in an age of social distancing

First look inside Station Family + BBQ opening in Wyoming
Posted at 5:11 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 17:11:23-04

WYOMING, Ohio — City Manager Lynn Tetley made a special delivery to some Wyoming businesses on Thursday.

Tetley dropped off four hundred DORA cups — cups that patrons can use to drink alcoholic beverages outside while walking between different restaurants in a zone known as a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area — to eateries such as Station Family + Barbecue, Tela Bar + Kitchen, Wyoming Community Coffee and Gabby's Cafe. That zone officially went live at 5 p.m.

It's not the kickoff officials had wanted. COVID-19 is definitely putting a damper on that.

But there's still plenty of excitement about it.

"I think the fact that we're seeing a shred of anything remotely normal is a glimmer of hope and light," Tetley said. "At the same time, we're not trying to make this big to-do. We want to give our restaurants the opportunity for additional sales but also be mindful that we're still in the middle of this thing."

Wyoming's council approved the DORA measure in January, but officials struggled to get an answer from the state's Division of Liquor Control on whether or not they could activate it. Because there are so few DORAs in the state, it wasn't addressed in Ohio's stay-at-home order. The official green light finally came Wednesday evening.

FROM 2019: In downtown Wyoming, you might soon be able to order those alcoholic drinks to go

Station Family + BBQ, which abuts the city's Village Green at 400 Wyoming Ave., wasted no time in planning an unofficial DORA celebration from 5-7 p.m. today. The restaurant is taking preorders and payments online. There are "orbs" freshly painted on the Village Green grass, one per family, to keep people appropriately distanced. Drinks will be limited to one per person because restroom facilities are off limits.

Tetley said Tela, located at 1212 Springfield Pike, is planning to add outdoor tables, both utilizing its neighboring parking lot, and some green space nearby.

"They're all being pretty creative about it," she said.

DORAs have been popular attractions in cities such as Mason, Milford, Hamilton and Loveland; Wyoming is the smallest — and first municipality solely in Hamilton County — to take part in the program.

Its DORA is a roughly 30-acre contiguous stretch that mostly runs from Wyoming Avenue and along Springfield Pike, and it includes seven total businesses (the Wyoming Civic Center, LaRosa’s and CWC the Restaurant are the others). Signage will be used to mark egress areas. Each of the four businesses that will launch the DORA received 100 cups from Tetley to start. She said 5,000 were ordered in all.

The cups are 16-ounce, white, plastic reusable containers designed with the Wyoming logo and a QR code that directs patrons to the city's website for information and hours; they cost $1 each.

The DORA will operate from 5-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-midnight Friday, noon-midnight Saturday and noon-9 p.m. Sunday. That's a shift from the original proposal. City officials had initially drafted the DORA's hours of operation as 10 a.m.-midnight daily. But neighbors wanted to be more mindful of school hours.

Although it may not provide the business boost the city's eateries had initially hoped for, at least in 2020, Tetley still expects it will have a big economic payoff overall.

"Do I think it will have an impact down the road? Yeah. It’s sort of a novelty. It would (make us) somewhat of a destination," she said. "Do I think it's going to have the impact we hoped for this year? No, I don’t think it will. But it can't hurt. I think it will have a positive impact."