Summer cocktails outdoors could become legal in Flats East Bank

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CLEVELAND-- Cleveland diners could soon enjoy a glass of wine or beer outside certain local bars and restaurants. A newly-proposed city ordinance would make outdoor alcohol consumption legal, making Ohio's open container law exempt.

The first so-called outdoor refreshment area city ordinance was introduced to city council on Monday by Ward 3 councilman Kerry McCormack, who believes passage would mean an economic boost to one of the hottest new areas in the city: the Flats East Bank.

"So what this allows for them to do is to activate the space with arts events and festivals planned and other community-based activities in allowing them to program that with not only activities but also with the food and beverage," Councilman McCormack said.

The ordinance would allow a property owner to apply for space to be designated as an outdoor refreshment area-- as long as it meets the requirements of containing at least four venues with liquor licenses.

Cleveland's open container law would be exempt and anyone carrying an alcoholic beverage would be required to have it in a plastic cup or bottle, and purchased from a licensed seller in the area.

McCormack said developers of the East Flats-- the Fairmount Properties-- is the first group to express interest.

"There's a rigorous process that the folks have to go through when it comes to cleanliness and safety and outlining where the space would be, and they have to pass all controls before anything like this is approved," McCormack said.

Cleveland can only set up-- at the most-- two outdoor refreshment areas within the city, so it's believed East 4th St. would be the next logical choice.  The legislation will now be assigned to a council committee for further review.

Supporters are hoping it is passed long before the end of the summer season.

Read more on the East Bank Flats here.