CINCINNATI — For the staff of Jefferson Social, the past year plus of operating during the pandemic has been a tough ride. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Banks in Cincinnati is debuting as a DORA district

  • DORA allows for outdoor drinking through a designated area

  • Bars like Jefferson Social welcome the change, after the pandemic has been crippling business for more than a year 

  • Manager Kris Keefe is optimistic things are returning to normal

“It’s been a challenge for sure,” Jefferson Social Manager Kris Keefe said. “Just dealing with the restrictions from the coronavirus, and all that. It’s been one curveball after the next.” 

Keefe said the city of Cincinnati has been great, providing assistance to local restaurants through grants and guidance, but the sheer duration of the pandemic has been a tough storm to weather. 

But the spring season starting is bringing new life. 

“With the weather getting better, we’re hoping that sooner than later we can start getting back to business as usual,” Keefe said. 

Another added boost for bars and restaurants is set to arrive by way of a new concept for outdoor dining and drinking called DORA, which stands for Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area. 

It allows people to walk around a designated area, enjoying alcoholic beverages in the open space. 

“The DORA, it’s going to be a big deal for us long term,” Keefe said. “Just everybody, we have 85 acres down here that are inclusive of the DORA District and that’s in between the Reds stadium in the Bengals stadium, and there’s the new concert venue that’s coming online that’s another thing that long term is going to be great for the area in the community down here” 

The first day it was a slow start, but as more people punched out of work, they started popping up along the Banks.

Local filmmakers Chase Crawford and Marco Thomas were some of the first to check out the new space. 

“I think it just is going to help bring the area back to life, Crawford said. “We didn’t have this stuff going on last summer so I think people are going to be excited to get back out and see the Reds grab a drink, grab a taco, you know it’s all fun.”

“It is pretty cool, and I’m excited to see all the people come out here again,” Thomas said. “Every time we come out here now it’s so naked, so we’re just excited to see people.”

Keefe said that optimism is a welcome sign for the staff at the bars along the Banks. 

“Our staff is incredible and we got through this,” Keefe said. “It was very difficult but we’re really excited about the future and we think everything that’s coming in the next months and years is gonna be really really good.”

DORA in Cincinnati will be a permanent addition to The Banks.