Enjoy Fort Wayne with a Beverage in Hand

With the continued growth and expansion of Fort Wayne’s downtown, people can now enjoy all there is to see and do with a glass of beer or wine in hand.

The Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) means alcoholic beverages can be served to those 21 and older in a specially marked drinking cup that can be carried around a 12-block area of downtown while enjoying live music, special events, shopping and more.
DORA is a first for Fort Wayne and Allen County.

“A lot of eyes are on us, being the first, so we are being cautious, working with local businesses and law enforcement,” says Preston Wallace, director of marketing for Downtown Fort Wayne.

The DORA 16-oz. plastic cups are specifically designed for use in the downtown area and can only be purchased by vendors who sell alcoholic beverages to patrons 21 years and older.

Shortly after DORA debuted, a second DORA opened up on the Electric Works Campus. The idea for DORA was first introduced to City Council in December and a city ordinance put it into effect May 5. It is not a new concept and is operating in other Indiana cities and across state lines. The ordinance states alcohol can be sold, served and dispensed from 7 a.m.-3 a.m. seven days a week.

DORA benefits communities because it draws people downtown, eliminates the red tape needed for beer tents and gardens, supports local businesses and vendors, and adds to the “vibrancy” of everything going on in downtown Fort Wayne, Wallace says.

The downtown DORA boundaries extend for a 12-block area from Promenade Park to Parkview Stadium between Calhoun and Harrison streets, a very “walkable” area with lots of public art, activities and businesses to explore.

So far, the program has been a “massive success,” Wallace says.

“As someone who was born and raised in Fort Wayne, I can speak to the growth that has taken place in our community. At one time, people worked and went home because there was nothing to do. Now, people can shop, dine, listen to live music, enjoy activities and be entertained. We have something for all residents and visitors. It’s incredible to watch. I’ve seen unprecedented development taking place here.”

A lot of research and study went into making sure DORA is a safe venture. Other DORA communities, local businesses and law enforcement were consulted in the process, Wallace says.

All laws governing the sale and consumption of alcohol are still in place, including that people need to be at least 21 years old to drink, they can’t be intoxicated or a nuisance to the public, and cannot break laws or harass other people.

“We already have a strong police presence in downtown and we looked into adding more units, but we decided it wasn’t necessary. As always, we will address issues as they arise.
“We expect people to behave because what has been given to them can also be taken away by the City Council.”