Uptown DORA

A beer in a DORA cup on Court Street. Photo submitted by Dani Underhill

The Athens Designated Outdoor Recreation Area (DORA) enjoyed a soft opening last weekend, and stakeholders are looking to have a true kick-off this weekend.

The DORA, which allows residents and visitors to carry alcoholic beverages in marked cups in certain parts of the city, was passed by Athens City Council last month.

Several people carrying DORA cups could be observed last week, some stopping by The Plains' Lions Club cruise-in that was held on Court Street on Friday.

Dani Underhill, president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce, said last week’s soft opening of the DORA “worked out pretty well.”

“It was a quiet and slow opening to give the participating businesses an opportunity to familiarize themselves,” Underhill said. “It seemed like folks were very excited to test it out.”

Athens Mayor Steve Patterson also felt the opening went “smoothly.”

As the DORA goes into its second week, here's what you need to know about how it works:

Hours and days

The Athens DORA is active from May 7 to Aug. 15, meaning you have only two more weeks to enjoy open containers Uptown.

It also is only during certain times throughout the week:

  • Thursdays 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Fridays and Saturdays 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Sundays 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Getting a drink

To take advantage of the DORA, patrons must buy special cups from participating locations. The cups are compostable, but Patterson encourages patrons to properly dispose of the cups.

The cups also feature a scannable QR code to show drinkers the rules and the map of the DORA boundaries.

Staying inbounds

In addition to the entirety of Court Street, the DORA boundaries encompass nearly all of the Uptown area, including portions of Mill Street, West Union Street, Depot Street and Station Street.

Signs have been placed around the DORA that clearly mark the boundaries. Patterson and APD Lt. Jeff McCall urge participants to be mindful of the borders.

I’ve got my drink. Now what?

Underhill said the idea behind the DORA is to drive energy and commerce in the Uptown area. To that effect, many stores have stickers designating they are a DORA-friendly and that you can bring your drink inside while you shop.

Look for one of three types of stickers: a sticker designating they are a DORA vendor, stickers that designate you can bring outside drinks in and stickers that say DORA cups are not permitted inside.

Underhill asked patrons to be mindful of the stickers and not enter businesses with the prohibited sticker with their DORA cups.

“In order for us to keep creating a safe and fun place, make sure you're looking for those dora stickers on the door,” Underhill said.

What about the police?

McCall from APD said the police will focus on educating people about DORA at first to make sure everyone understands the rules, rather than meting out punishment.

“Enforcement is going to be situated in education with bars and the citizens or customers,” McCall said.

McCall said APD had hoped the DORA would have started sooner than it did so the department would have more time for education. He said it will be a learning experience for all involved.

“It is going to be something new, people are just going to have to learn from it,” McCall said.

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