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Cuyahoga Falls city council approves downtown outdoor refreshment area

Businesses say it's a positive move for their bottom line
Posted at 6:11 PM, Apr 26, 2023

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — A new attraction will soon be coming to Cuyahoga Falls. Monday, the city council unanimously approved allowing visitors to enjoy alcoholic beverages as they walk around parts of downtown.

The designated outdoor refreshment area (DORA) is planned for a nearly one-mile stretch of Front and 2nd Streets, between Moe’s Restaurant near Wadsworth Avenue and Grant Avenue south of HiHO Brewing Company. Under the provision, visitors will be allowed to purchase drinks in approved DORA cups at participating businesses and enjoy them outdoors or within other participating businesses.

“We feel like it really fits what our customers are looking for, and selfishly, we think we make some of the best cocktails in Northeast Ohio and that way they can enjoy it when they walk up and down the street,” laughed Jessie Coffey, the co-owner of Tiki Underground.

The quirky, shipwreck-themed bar opened on Front St. in September, adding some tropical flair to the newly blossoming area south of Broad Blvd.

“We’ve had an opportunity to show tiki to a lot of people who haven’t experienced tiki before,” said general manager Jessica Murdock.

Coffey and her husband Sean chose the location, in part, because of the rapidly growing downtown and strong business community.

“Pretty much every business on Front Street is owned by a family or a couple like us. That makes a big difference. We can really support each other,” she said.

The Coffeys said most of their fellow business owners were in support of the DORA. A presentation to the City Council noted around 20 businesses falling within the designated area that already hold qualifying permits to participate in the program.

“There’s a lot of things to see. And now you can do that and enjoy a beverage,” said Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters.

Walters said the city had received little pushback from businesses or residents about the proposal. He explained the plan calls for adding extra trash cans and more police patrols to mitigate concerns about litter and safety.

“We’re going to be monitoring that and monitoring the boundaries,” Walters said. “We’ll have signs and we’ll go up and tell you you cannot leave this area with a DORA cup.”

He believes allowing alcoholic beverages outside was a natural next step in the city’s investment in the downtown area, which has seen rapid growth and regular events in recent years.

“This was all a brick pedestrian mall. And the businesses were empty. It was really a ghost town,” he said. “We had to put the road in, all these beautiful amenities so people would make investments in their buildings and get businesses in there. And it’s happened.”

Business owners, like the Coffeys, expect the DORA to encourage visitors to spend their money at more bars, shops and restaurants in town.

“We know that a lot of our customers are walking up and down Front Street when they come to downtown Cuyahoga Falls. They’re enjoying multiple businesses. They don’t just go to one business and leave,” Coffey said. “Anyone who comes to downtown Cuyahoga Falls, they’re truly supporting not only the local community, but a lot of local business owners.”

Businesses interested in taking part in the DORA will need to apply, receive the city’s approval and purchase the designated cups. That process could take up to several months before the DORA is up and running. In November, City Council plans to hold a public hearing to gather early feedback on the program.

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