Rules for Special Areas

What is a Sidewalk Cafe?

A sidewalk cafe is a portion of an eating or drinking establishment that is located on a public sidewalk. There are three categories of sidewalk cafes – enclosed, unenclosed and small sidewalk cafes.

  • An enclosed sidewalk cafe is a sidewalk cafe that is contained within a structure.
  • An unenclosed sidewalk cafe is open to the sky, and contains readily removable tables, chairs or railings, with no overhead coverage other than umbrellas or a retractable awning. .
  • A small sidewalk cafe is an unenclosed sidewalk cafe containing no more than a single row of tables and chairs in a space no greater than 4½ feet from the property line, with no barrier between the café space and the sidewalk.

Where are Sidewalk Cafes permitted?

The Zoning Resolution regulates where sidewalk cafes are permitted in Article I, Chapter 4. They are generally permitted in Commercial Districts other than C3 Districts, Manufacturing Districts with certain exceptions, R10H Districts, and certain Special Purpose Districts. Sidewalk cafes are prohibited where there may be clearance or pedestrian conflicts, on selected streets listed in Section 14-41. Enclosed sidewalk cafes are also not permitted on the streets listed in Section 14-42. Small sidewalk cafes are allowed on certain streets pursuant to Section 14-43, subject to the underlying zoning. Sidewalk cafes are only allowed in the Special Districts listed in Section 14-44.

What are the design criteria?

Physical and structural criteria for enclosed sidewalk cafes are regulated by zoning, such as minimum sidewalk clearances, clearances from large obstructions, and transparency requirements. Additional physical and design criteria for all sidewalk cafes, including unenclosed sidewalk cafes, are regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). DCA is responsible for reviewing and licensing all applications for sidewalk cafes.