DORA district at the Banks good for some businesses, but not all

Reds fans gathered at The Banks' designated outdoor refreshment area before the start of the Reds' home opener, April 1, 2021. MARIEL CARBONE / WCPO

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Reds fans gathered at The Banks' designated outdoor refreshment area before the start of the Reds' home opener, April 1, 2021. MARIEL CARBONE / WCPO

Joella’s Hot Chicken blames closure on roads being shut down

CINCINNATI — The DORA (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area) district at the Banks is coming along, but the changes around it aren’t benefiting every business.

Crews were out Friday morning installing the turf, and bringing out patio furniture.

A spokesperson with the Banks says all of these additions are helping to fulfill the vision of what the DORA is intended to be.

Businesses like The Holy Grail Tavern have benefited from the development of the pedestrian-only district.

“The DORA helped with the street, made things busier. We’d see traffic a little bit earlier on,” said Denise Koenig with the Holy Grail Tavern. “This year was great. It was obviously better than last year. We had a great Reds season. DORA helped a lot.”

Now, seven months after shutting down Freedom Way, the plan is coming into full focus.

Tracy Schwegmann is with the Banks. She says the installation of turf and soft seating was delayed due to supply chain issues, until now.

“Now we’re actually able to start to engage folks in that common area space in more of the fashion that we originally envisioned,” Schwegmann said.

More permanent fixtures are still on the way, including asphalt art, and seating, making it a more “welcoming” park-like space.

“The DORA district has been a home run since day one. And it was absolutely instrumental to getting people back out,” Schwegmann said.

But not everyone saw the ball fly out of the park. Joella’s Hot Chicken announced this week it’s closing its location at the Banks. The restaurant blamed, in part, the DORA street closures, which the business says “eliminated our ability to conduct delivery services.”

“Every establishment is doing Door Dash. Everyone had a very, very, very successful summer. I suppose if they feel like that’s part of the reason why they needed to close, we certainly understand and respect that,” Schwegmann said.

The DORA district allows guests to take their beverage purchased from one of the 18 Banks establishments, from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily, and walk around 85 acres of public plazas and green space, so long as the drink is in the official plastic DORA cup.

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A map of The Banks in downtown Cincinnati.

A map of The Banks in downtown Cincinnati.

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A map of The Banks in downtown Cincinnati.

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