Downtown DORA: Cinco de Mayo Launch

By now, you may have heard of DORA (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area)—an upcoming City program that allows anyone (21 or older, of course) to imbibe outside while strolling the sidewalks of Downtown Fort Wayne.


It’s set to launch during Cinco de Mayo, right in time for al fresco spring dining season and all the upcoming summer festivals. There are a few easy-to-follow rules, though. Here’s how it works:


  • Your drinks must be served to you in an official DORA cup by an official participating DORA locations below. Just ask your bartender for your drink to-go in a DORA cup, and they’ll take care of you!
  • While you’re enjoying your outdoor beverage, you must stay within the DORA boundaries.
  • DORA beverages cannot be taken into other establishments and empty DORA cups must be discarded before entering another establishment. DORA cups are one-time-use only.

It’s that simple!


The long-awaited DORA program is new to Fort Wayne, but it’s hardly a new concept. DORA programs have been popular for years in other Midwestern cities like Grand Rapids, Toledo, and Dayton. While DORA programs have existed for quite some time, they saw an uptick during COVID, when people were looking for innovative ways to gather. Searching for ways to socialize outside of confined spaces, like a traditional bar or restaurant, many cities adopted DORA as a solution to keep communities together and help the hospitality industry, which was still reeling from months of mandated closures and social distancing.


These DORA adopters found community benefits far beyond meeting public health concerns, like increased foot traffic to in-boundary businesses—even those that didn’t participate in DORA, like retail and museums. Turns out, people enjoy grabbing a cocktail from their favorite bar while enjoying the fresh air and exploring their local cityscape. So, as COVID concerns and restrictions began to loosen, DORA programs stayed strong.


Wondering what Fort Wayne’s DORA program will look like? Here are some things we know so far:


  • The DORA boundary will span from Parkview Field to Promenade Park, as far east as Calhoun Street and as far west as Ewing Street, with new additions coming soon in phase 2—like the Electric Works campus. 
  • Because the program requires the use of a designated, disposable cup, the City of Fort Wayne has partnered up with Brightmark to keep DORA sustainable. When you recycle your DORA cup at one of Brightmark’s downtown collection bins, Brightmark will repurpose your cup using their plastics renewal technology.
  • Here’s a list of locations that will be participating approved vendors so far (with more coming soon!):

816 Pint & Slice

Bistro Nota

Burger Bar

Conner’s Kitchen + Bar

Conner’s Rooftop

Copper Spoon



JK O’Donnell’s




Night Train

Papi’s Pizza


teds Snack + Bar

The Sidecar



To learn more about DORA, visit

Molly Conner is a Fort Wayne native and freelance writer. Having lived in Downtown Fort Wayne throughout her twenties, she loves watching her stomping grounds grow. With her love of storytelling and community in tow, she’s eager to tell Downtown Fort Wayne’s story piece-by-piece—exploring the people, spaces, and organizations that make it thrive.