CLEVELAND (WJW) – The Cleveland Planning Commission unanimously voted to make Cleveland’s East 4th District the first designated outdoor refreshment area (DORA) in the city starting in the spring of 2024.

“This is kind of an opportunity for people to come down with their families, have a glass of wine, a cocktail and just be out in the environment enjoying the vibe downtown,” said Ed Eckart, senior vice president of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

Eckart said this will be a huge deal for Cleveland — something that’s taken years of planning to accomplish.

“Honestly, we are very purposeful about it,” he said. “We’re very conscious that this is the first DORA in the city of Cleveland. And as this goes, that’s how DORAs are going to go, right?”

The DORA concept is straightforward and simple. Patrons can purchase an alcoholic beverage inside a DORA cup, which permits them to move through the marked lines of the district.

It’s been used in cities across the state for years.

Most folks are looking forward to the change.

“When I go out, I go to East 4th a lot,” Alex Ruch said. “So, it’ll be fun to bounce around from bar to bar, walk around with an open container instead of having to finish it before you head to your next bar, so I think it’ll be cool.”

“Oh man, it’s great,” Thomas of Kent said. “You’re not confined to a bar. You know you’re not stuck bumping into people, getting your shoes stepped on. When you’re out here, you’re outside in the nice fresh air and everything.”

Bars and restaurants are excited, too. Hector Rodriguez is a team leader at Blue Agave. He said the pandemic changed the number of people coming downtown, so the DORA zone is a welcome change.

“I think the whole area of East 4th is looking forward to it, just because it’s going to bring in more people,” Rodriguez said. “It’s great for the business and it’s just fun.”

Eckart said the Downtown Cleveland Alliance is still working on logistics, planning and policy implementation.

East 4th Street is also set for a renovation project to add a seating area with space for live performances where the valet parking booth currently sits. Both projects need to be aligned and foolproof before DORA can officially begin.