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Mishawaka Common Council DORA Informational Meeting Recap

An informational meeting was held before the Mishawaka Common Council to reintroduce the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) ordinance. The informational meeting took place at 6 pm on June 12th, 2024, in the Mishawaka City Hall Council Room. On behalf of the Mishawaka Department Heads, Restaurant General Managers, and Mishawaka citizens, DORA is being advocated for, and here is why. 

Going back to July 1st, 2023, the State of Indiana passed a law that would allow cities to designate an area for outdoor alcohol consumption. The DORA ordinance will allow adults twenty-one and over to purchase an alcoholic beverage from a participating vendor and walk within a designated area with said beverage of choice in a designated DORA cup. DORA will create a more inviting atmosphere for socializing, dining, and shopping and enhance the vibrancy of Mishawaka’s downtown. A designated area will also nurture freedom for guests to consume and carry alcohol while also creating a safe environment for patrons and event visitors. 

Not only will DORA establish more freedom and a safer environment, but it will also help with business for establishments within its boundaries. Mishawaka’s DORA would be along the St. Joseph River and off Main Street, specifically starting in and around the Ironworks Plaza. Ironworks Plaza is already a hot spot for community gatherings and events, and with the addition of a designated area, those experiences will become more relaxing and enjoyable. Guests can enjoy the atmosphere and the included establishments such as Sun King Brewery, Mishawaka Public House, Social Cantina, and temporary participating vendors. The DORA will help attract more outside visitors and local businesses to the restaurants included within the DORA. 

Though DORA has its benefits, there were concerns addressed regarding the size and impact of the designated area. To shed some light on those concerns, extensive research has been done on other cities that have issued a DORA. Evidence from those cities indicates that potential issues are minimal and manageable. There will be a clear set of rules, maps, signage, and community education. Participating vendors will also prohibit outside alcohol and require drinks to be served in designated cups by trained and licensed bartenders and staff. 

 The establishment of a DORA in Mishawaka is a positive initiative that will encourage numerous benefits to the community. This ordinance is designed to be a welcoming and safe environment that will enhance citizens’ experience downtown while boosting the local economy. City Departments will work carefully and collaborate to ensure that DORA will be a positive addition to our city.  

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