Dexter Considers Reinstating Its Downtown Social District


Signs similar to this will mark the boundaries of the social district. Photo by Doug Marrin.

Warmer months and outdoor seating may be gone for a while, but you can still enjoy walking downtown Dexter, maybe with a little extra antifreeze in your system to fight off the hibernal chill.

At its Nov 28 meeting, the Dexter City Council adopted a resolution to allow year-round operation of the Downtown Social District.

In a move intended to mitigate the effect of pandemic restrictions on bars and restaurants, on July 1, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed into law House Bill 5781, the Social District Act, which allows cities to set up spaces where customers could move freely with open container alcoholic drinks in designated outdoor areas. Beverages must be purchased from adjoining businesses licensed to sell alcoholic drinks for immediate consumption. The provision was set to expire in January 2025, but the state removed that deadline last March.

Map of Dexter’s social district where open-container alcoholic drinks purchased from permitted restaurants and bars are allowed. Image: Dexter City Council meeting package.

Dexter established its social district in Oct 2020 and opened it for the winter months. The city’s idea behind making it year-round is to attract more patrons to downtown Dexter and promote the growing vibrancy there.

Of Dexter’s five licensed establishments that qualify for the social district, four have obtained permits in the past and are planning to do so again—Aubrees, Beer Grotto, Erratic Ales, and Dexter Pub. The Fillmore has not yet expressed an interest in taking part.

Drinks will be served in non-glass beverage cups with a maximum capacity of 16 ounces. The cups will be labeled with the city’s logo, the name of the establishment serving it, and the words “Contains Alcohol. Must be delivered to a person 21 years of age or older”.

The beverages are only allowed in the social district and may not be taken into an establishment other than where it was purchased. No packaged alcohol may be brought into the social district, nor alcohol from a business outside the designated area.

The social district will be open from noon to 11:00 pm seven days a week.

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