The opening of the outdoor beverage district in downtown Napoleon could be less than a couple weeks away.
Napoleon City Council about two weeks ago approved sending an application to the Ohio Department of Safety for the Napoleon Outdoor Refreshment Area. Patrons from one drinking establishment could then buy a beverage in a special cup and walk to another establishment within the district.
“We are the 12th one in the state,” said City Manager Joel Mazur. “And they said we were the first one that they didn’t have to send the application back for supplemental information.”
The opening of the district is now just waiting on the arrival of the first set of cups, which were ordered Friday.
“The Henry County Bank sponsored the purchase of the first 10,000 cups,” said Doug Herman, owner of Eddie J’s Bar and Grill in downtown Napoleon and member of Napoleon Alive. “The cups will have The Henry County Bank logo on one side and the Napoleon logo on the other.”
Herman said the current plan is to not charge an additional fee for the 16 ounce cups as long as the group continues to have sponsorships for them. Of course, patrons would still need to pay the price of the drink.
Mazur said the signs that will be used to outline the district have also been ordered, but they have not yet arrived. He added temporary signs could be used if the cups arrive before the full-time signs.
While patrons can use the cups to walk around outside within the district, they will have to dispose of the cups prior to entering another drinking establishment within the NORA. In addition, they will not be able to enter into a downtown shop that does not have a liquor license if they have alcohol in the cup.
However, both Mazur and Herman said the idea of the NORA is about more than just being able to walk in the downtown area with alcoholic beverages.
“The shops can still stay open and the hope is something like this could help encourage more sidewalk shopping,” Mazur said.
“It’s more about community,” Herman said. “It opens up the freedom to do more.”
He added ideas being considered already include corn hole tournaments in which contestants go from one place to another, or customers taking a drink with them as they look at the cars set up on Washington Street during the monthly River City Rodders Cruise-Ins in the summer.
Mazur said he believes there will be a lot of education needed about the district initially, and that will have to come from the city as well as the private sector.
“There’s a lot of responsibility on the part of the permit holders,” Mazur said.