Fayetteville council extends Outdoor Refreshment Area

2012 Block Street Block Party / File photo

Fayetteville’s Outdoor Refreshment Area will stay in place for at least three more years.

The City Council on Tuesday approved an ordinance that extends a sunset clause for the outdoor drinking program which was set to expire at the end of January. The new sunset date is April 30, 2024.

The ordinance was first presented as a measure to make the program permanent, but Council Member Teresa Turk proposed a sunset extension to provide the council with an opportunity to revisit the ordinance in the future to determine if it’s still working post-pandemic.

“The world is unpredictable,” said Turk. “If somehow this beautiful program that has been designed turns into a Bourbon Street, I want to be able to figure out a way that we could kind of control that and reassess it.”

Turk’s amendment passed 7-1 with Council Member Matthew Petty voting against the sunset provision.

“Bourbon Street feels very alien to the Fayetteville experience,” said Petty. “I don’t think it’ll happen here unless we have a City Council that’s way different and encourages it or even pursues it.”

Molly Rawn, CEO of Experience Fayetteville, said she was happy that the program will continue, but said she’s disappointed with the sunset clause, and hopes the council can make the program more permanent when the ordinance is back up for consideration in three years.

The council also passed an amendment to allow the mayor more authority to make immediate changes if an issue arises. For example, if a large event occurred in the entertainment district, the mayor could limit alcohol consumption in the streets if it’s believed to be a potential safety issue. That amendment passed unanimously.

The area where outdoor drinking is allowed runs roughly from Watson Street to the north, Mountain Street to the south, and from West to East avenues in the downtown entertainment district. A second district was approved last month in a portion of the Evelyn Hills Shopping Center.

The area is marked by a series of 50 aluminum signs so people know where outdoor drinking is allowed.

Participating businesses can sell alcoholic beverages in special cups provided by the city from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. Customers must wear a branded wristband before they can leave the business with their drinks and walk around outside.

No other alcohol is allowed inside the boundaries.

The drinks are served in environmentally-friendly cups that can be disposed of in a number of recycling receptacles through the area.

The cups must be kept within the boundaries and cannot be brought into any other business that serves alcohol. Bringing drinks into shops that don’t serve alcohol is permitted with permission from those businesses.

Devin Howland, the city’s economic vitality director, said over 60 businesses are currently participating in the program.


Rules for Customers:

  1. ORA Cups must be kept within the program area–look for the boundary signs.
  2. ORA drinks are allowed Sunday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
  3. You cannot take an ORA cup into another establishment serving alcohol; you cannot enter a non-alcohol serving business with an ORA cup without that business’s permission.
  4. Don’t litter. Cups must be disposed of in a designated recycling bin.
  5. Don’t loiter per (ACA 5-71-213).
  6. Don’t give your ORA alcoholic beverage to anyone else, even if they are 21 years of age or older.
  7. Don’t bring in alcoholic beverages from outside the district to consume in ORA cups. Alcoholic beverages must be purchased from participating businesses within the ORA and consumed in designated cups.
  8. All City and State of Arkansas laws pertaining to alcohol still apply.
  9. Drink responsibly and enjoy downtown Fayetteville!

Rules for Businesses:

  1. Patrons who purchase a drink to be consumed outside of the establishment will be I.D.’d to verify they are of legal drinking age and given a designated wrist band by the business.
  2. If a patron enters a bar with a wristband on which they obtained from another business, the business shall I.D. the patron to confirm legal drinking age.
  3. ORA Cups can only be sold during the designated times of 10AM-10PM, seven days a week.
  4. Businesses can charge a fee for an ORA cup and wrist band if they wish but are not required to do so.
  5. Alcoholic Beverages sold for the purpose of being consumed outside of the establishment shall be within a designated ORA Cup.

Source: City of Fayetteville