DORA Logo (Official)

Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area

In 2015, a state law was passed that allowed cities to create a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA). A DORA designates a specific area which allows patrons of participating licensed restaurants, bars and entertainment venues to carry up to 16 oz. of an open alcoholic beverage in a designated cup outside the establishments.

Nearly 60 communities across Ohio have created DORA districts and they have found the DORA provides an additional attraction for patrons, creates a destination for dining and entertainment, and promotes building a lively, pedestrian-friendly environment in the area. Nearby cities that currently have a DORA are Port Clinton, Fremont, Norwalk, Lorain, and Tiffin.

The Downtown Sandusky Master Plan listed the creation of a DORA as one of the top 10 programming and policy priorities for downtown.

The Sandusky City Commission recently approved legislation creating a DORA in downtown Sandusky. The application has also been approved by the Ohio Division of Liquor Control. 

As of 5:00 PM on Friday, July 16th, the DORA is officially open. The hours of operation are 9am-midnight, 7 days/week. 

How It Works
1. Beverages must be purchased at a bar or restaurant located within the DORA boundaries. Cups must be emptied or placed in a trash receptacle before patrons enter another liquor establishment. 

2. Beverages must be consumed from special DORA cups. Consumption from other vessels would be considered an "open carry" violation subject to law enforcement.
3. Beverages are allowed only within DORA boundaries. 
4. Beverages may only be carried into stores displaying a green sign indicating that DORA beverages are permitted.
5. Outdoor consumption of alcohol is permitted only during DORA hours (9am-midnight).
6. All other liquor laws would still apply to liquor establishments and patrons, including overserving and drunk driving laws.

DORA Boundaries
The map below shows the DORA district that is mostly in line with the Downtown Business District zoning district and Sandusky's Community Entertainment District. The state allows the district to be up to 150 acres. This district is 121 acres. 
Dora Map Final - Web

Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I bring my own beverages into the DORA?
A: No. Patrons cannot bring their own alcoholic drinks into the DORA, and purchased drinks must remain in the designated DORA cup.

Q: What types of alcoholic beverages can I carry in the DORA?
A: Beer, wine, and liquor are all allowable drinks in DORA cups. Drinks must be purchased from a participating liquor establishment.

Q: Can I take my DORA beverage from one liquor establishment into another?
A: No, you cannot take a filled or partially-filled DORA cup from one participating liquor establishment into another participating liquor establishment or back into the establishment where the beverage was purchased. Used cups must be emptied or disposed of before entering a liquor establishment. 

Q: Can I shop with my DORA beverage?
A: Yes, but only if a retailer indicates that they allow DORA beverages in their store. Please check before entering.

Q: How will the DORA be enforced?
A: Sandusky Police staff will monitor the DORA area during routine patrols, and adjust visibility and enforcement as needed.

Q: What are the responsibilities of liquor establishments participating in the DORA?
A: Downtown bars and restaurants are held to the same guidelines and laws to ensure the safety of their guests, check IDs, and not over-serve alcohol to patrons.

DORA Application
On May 12th, 2021, the City Manager's Office submitted a DORA application to the Sandusky City Commission for consideration.  

View the full application

Planning Commission Presentation
Staff made a presentation about the DORA program to the Planning Commission on February 24th. 
Click here to see the slides from the Planning Commission presentation.

View the full presentation to the Planning Commission below:

DORA Questions & Feedback

If you have questions or feedback about the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area program, please share them below and a staff member will get back with you.