Outdoor Refreshment Area (ORA)

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Why utilize Act 812 "Entertainment Districts" to create an Outdoor Refreshment Area in Fayetteville?

Originally, the intent behind the creation of an Outdoor Refreshment Area was the recognition it could positively contribute to the activity and economic vitality of Downtown Fayetteville. Municipalities across the state have successfully implemented these districts, including Little Rock and El Dorado. Furthermore, dozens of municipalities across the country have ordinances that allow for various forms of public alcohol consumption.

Here in Fayetteville, we want to provide event organizers the choice to allow patrons to consume alcohol outside of a beer garden and give event organizers the option for businesses to make sales to event attendees. We also want to test a regularly scheduled open consumption district and expansion of sidewalk cafés to explore ways to bring unique offerings to both residents and tourists. Today, while these positive rationales still hold true, the coronavirus pandemic has changed staff’s “why” behind the desire to utilize this tool.


COVID-19 and utilizing Act 812 as a tool to help restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues during prolonged social distancing measures

The pandemic has disproportionately impacted certain industry sectors, including restaurants, bars, and performance venues. Through the various necessary public health directives, private clubs were not given a chance to pivot or adapt through to-go sales in Arkansas. Given the prolonged impact to sales the pandemic has had and will continue to have due to reduced occupancy and consumer concerns, Act 812 can be a tool to help these businesses increase sales during this time.

The expansion of sidewalk cafés can increase occupancy for these businesses. Research is continuing to show that open-air dining can be safer as well. Currently, Arkansas state law prohibits alcohol being served outdoors without fencing around the tables. The establishment of Outdoor Refreshment Areas can eliminate that requirement for some businesses.

In addition, a regularly scheduled open consumption district can enable an increase in sales for these establishments. To-go sales will not only provide an additional revenue source for businesses, but also enable more social distancing by giving patrons the ability to consume alcohol while walking down sidewalks in a smaller area within the Outdoor Refreshment Area boundary.

A great deal of uncertainty now exists for events going forward under the current system. Traditional beer gardens do the very thing people cannot do right now—congregate in a confined area. As event organizers look to adapt and overcome these challenges, Act 812 can provide a new tool for them during a time of social distancing.


What does the new Outdoor Refreshment Area (ORA) ordinance do?

Sidewalk Cafés:

Businesses within the ORA boundary will be able to apply for a Sidewalk Café permit to use sidewalks for outdoor seating and would not be required to create a fence or barrier around their seating. Alcohol would be allowed to be served at these sidewalk cafés and regular glassware could be used. Designated cups and physical identifiers would not be required for sidewalk cafés.


Special Events:

Event organizers have the option to request that event attendees not be required to limit their consumption of alcohol to the confines of a designated consumption area or "beer garden." If approved, event attendees would be able to consume alcohol outdoors anywhere within the designated event area (such as a closed street). Event organizers have the option to allow businesses that serve alcohol and are located within the event area the opportunity to serve event attendees alcohol, which could then be consumed within the event area.

Given the charitable requirements of picnic permits, and to ensure event organizers can manage all aspects of their events, the choice should be given to the event organizer regarding open consumption and allowing surrounding businesses to sell to-go drinks that could be consumed in the event area.


Limited Open Consumption District Pilot Programs:

A regularly scheduled open consumption district pilot program can be defined as allowing visitors or patrons to be able to purchase alcohol from a participating business and consume their beverage while walking down the sidewalks in a smaller defined area within the Outdoor Refreshment Area. Streets would not be required to be closed.

The pilot program could take place until the sunset provision of January 30, 2021 (the sunset date will likely need to be extended. No long-term decisions pertaining to public consumption should be made until an assessment can be done to review the pilot program under conditions of “full capacity” with anchor institutions and downtown activity.) This program would be piloted by City staff who have a series of requirements to meet in order to begin such a program. (You can view the specific requirements on the City of Fayetteville web page here.)


Proposed Outdoor Refreshment Area Boundary

Click here to download pdf of map below.

The proposed Outdoor Refreshment Area boundary can be seen above. Its size is to enable more businesses to take advantage of the sidewalk café benefits and give flexibility for event organizers.

Would residents be able to walk around the entire area during the pilot program, which allows for to-go sales? No. The pilot program will be a much smaller area within the boundary map. Staff will work with businesses and stakeholders to define the area for the pilot. We need your help to define it as well, see our questionnaire below.


Phased Implementation Plan

Click here to view pdf of chart below.

The City recognizes the value of continuing to take a slow and steady approach to public alcohol consumption in Fayetteville. The Phasing Plan paces the rollout of different aspects of what is allowed within the ORA. This allows City staff and local businesses to conduct assessments of how things are going at each stage and make changes if needed. City staff will also report to City Council at the end of each phase. Phasing allows Fayetteville to test new things and prove concepts to residents, businesses, and other stakeholders.


Why utilize Act 812 "Entertainment Districts" to create an Outdoor Refreshment Area in Fayetteville?

Originally, the intent behind the creation of an Outdoor Refreshment Area was the recognition it could positively contribute to the activity and economic vitality of Downtown Fayetteville. Municipalities across the state have successfully implemented these districts, including Little Rock and El Dorado. Furthermore, dozens of municipalities across the country have ordinances that allow for various forms of public alcohol consumption.

Here in Fayetteville, we want to provide event organizers the choice to allow patrons to consume alcohol outside of a beer garden and give event organizers the option for businesses to make sales to event attendees. We also want to test a regularly scheduled open consumption district and expansion of sidewalk cafés to explore ways to bring unique offerings to both residents and tourists. Today, while these positive rationales still hold true, the coronavirus pandemic has changed staff’s “why” behind the desire to utilize this tool.


COVID-19 and utilizing Act 812 as a tool to help restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues during prolonged social distancing measures

The pandemic has disproportionately impacted certain industry sectors, including restaurants, bars, and performance venues. Through the various necessary public health directives, private clubs were not given a chance to pivot or adapt through to-go sales in Arkansas. Given the prolonged impact to sales the pandemic has had and will continue to have due to reduced occupancy and consumer concerns, Act 812 can be a tool to help these businesses increase sales during this time.

The expansion of sidewalk cafés can increase occupancy for these businesses. Research is continuing to show that open-air dining can be safer as well. Currently, Arkansas state law prohibits alcohol being served outdoors without fencing around the tables. The establishment of Outdoor Refreshment Areas can eliminate that requirement for some businesses.

In addition, a regularly scheduled open consumption district can enable an increase in sales for these establishments. To-go sales will not only provide an additional revenue source for businesses, but also enable more social distancing by giving patrons the ability to consume alcohol while walking down sidewalks in a smaller area within the Outdoor Refreshment Area boundary.

A great deal of uncertainty now exists for events going forward under the current system. Traditional beer gardens do the very thing people cannot do right now—congregate in a confined area. As event organizers look to adapt and overcome these challenges, Act 812 can provide a new tool for them during a time of social distancing.


What does the new Outdoor Refreshment Area (ORA) ordinance do?

Sidewalk Cafés:

Businesses within the ORA boundary will be able to apply for a Sidewalk Café permit to use sidewalks for outdoor seating and would not be required to create a fence or barrier around their seating. Alcohol would be allowed to be served at these sidewalk cafés and regular glassware could be used. Designated cups and physical identifiers would not be required for sidewalk cafés.


Special Events:

Event organizers have the option to request that event attendees not be required to limit their consumption of alcohol to the confines of a designated consumption area or "beer garden." If approved, event attendees would be able to consume alcohol outdoors anywhere within the designated event area (such as a closed street). Event organizers have the option to allow businesses that serve alcohol and are located within the event area the opportunity to serve event attendees alcohol, which could then be consumed within the event area.

Given the charitable requirements of picnic permits, and to ensure event organizers can manage all aspects of their events, the choice should be given to the event organizer regarding open consumption and allowing surrounding businesses to sell to-go drinks that could be consumed in the event area.


Limited Open Consumption District Pilot Programs:

A regularly scheduled open consumption district pilot program can be defined as allowing visitors or patrons to be able to purchase alcohol from a participating business and consume their beverage while walking down the sidewalks in a smaller defined area within the Outdoor Refreshment Area. Streets would not be required to be closed.

The pilot program could take place until the sunset provision of January 30, 2021 (the sunset date will likely need to be extended. No long-term decisions pertaining to public consumption should be made until an assessment can be done to review the pilot program under conditions of “full capacity” with anchor institutions and downtown activity.) This program would be piloted by City staff who have a series of requirements to meet in order to begin such a program. (You can view the specific requirements on the City of Fayetteville web page here.)


Proposed Outdoor Refreshment Area Boundary

Click here to download pdf of map below.

The proposed Outdoor Refreshment Area boundary can be seen above. Its size is to enable more businesses to take advantage of the sidewalk café benefits and give flexibility for event organizers.

Would residents be able to walk around the entire area during the pilot program, which allows for to-go sales? No. The pilot program will be a much smaller area within the boundary map. Staff will work with businesses and stakeholders to define the area for the pilot. We need your help to define it as well, see our questionnaire below.


Phased Implementation Plan

Click here to view pdf of chart below.

The City recognizes the value of continuing to take a slow and steady approach to public alcohol consumption in Fayetteville. The Phasing Plan paces the rollout of different aspects of what is allowed within the ORA. This allows City staff and local businesses to conduct assessments of how things are going at each stage and make changes if needed. City staff will also report to City Council at the end of each phase. Phasing allows Fayetteville to test new things and prove concepts to residents, businesses, and other stakeholders.


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