Philadelphia’s diverse restaurants not only help to power the local economy, but they also give the city’s neighborhoods their distinct character. During the modified green phase of reopening, restaurants throughout the city need expanded capacity to maintain proper social distancing.
We’re committed to ensuring that all Philadelphia restaurants—across all neighborhoods—have an equal opportunity to reopen safely and earn a living by offering outdoor dining. The City’s guidelines for outdoor dining can be found here.
Outdoor dining in Philadelphia
Restaurants that have patio areas on their properties or already have sidewalk café licenses are able to offer outdoor seating, as long as they follow COVID-19 safety precautions and have current, valid restaurant licenses.
New outdoor dining registration forms are available online (search for “restaurants” in the list of documents).
Businesses without existing permits, and those who wish to expand their existing outdoor dining footprint, are encouraged to apply for our new outdoor dining options. Registration and approval is required for new or expanded outdoor dining prior to opening.
Restaurants have four potential options based on their location:
- Sidewalk Café — Allows for daily use of sidewalk area in front of the business for restaurant seating.
- Streetery — Allows for curbside parking at street level (or platform built on the street) to be converted into outdoor dining or take-away area for food and beverages.
- Temporary use of private lots for dining — Allows restaurants to convert spaces in their parking lots into restaurant seating and to place seating onto vacant lots in most commercial and mixed-use zoning districts.
- Temporary street closure — Pilot program that allows for temporary closure of certain streets for restaurant seating.
For the first time, restaurants also have the opportunity to expand their seating area in front of adjacent businesses and onto vacant lots, with the written permission of the property owners.
There are no fees to register for any of the outdoor dining options. However, a Temporary Use permit for lot closures is $30.
Keeping Philadelphians safe while dining outside
Regardless of which outdoor dining option businesses choose, they must follow existing social distancing and public safety measures, as outlined in guidance by the Department of Public Health for restaurants and the specific guidance for outdoor dining.
Safety precautions include:
- Spacing tables, and the backs of all chairs (when seated), a minimum of six feet apart.
- Maintaining pedestrian and traffic safety, including a clear path (six feet wide) of travel for pedestrian flow.
- Maintaining easy access to public utilities, fire hydrants, building entrances, crosswalks, and transit stops.
- Restricting the total number of people on the premises to the current maximum gathering size allowed by the City—which is currently 50 people, including guests and front of house staff.
The following rules also apply to all businesses operating outdoor dining:
- Hours of operation are limited to 8 a.m. – midnight, with last call for food and drink at 11 p.m.
- No heating, cooking or open flames in the right of way, except approved outdoor heaters.
- No food preparation in the public right of way.
- Appropriate lighting is required at night.
- Outdoor operations can be shut down if they are a nuisance to neighbors.
- Moveable furniture on streets and sidewalks must be labeled as property of the business and must be moved inside or secured to the ground when not in use.
- Establishments with less than 20 tables total, must make at least one table ADA accessible. Establishments with more than 20 tables total, must make 5 percent of tables ADA accessible. This applies to all restaurants that register for new or expanded outdoor seating, even those with prior exemptions.
- Deliveries and waste and recycling collections must be conducted safely and in a way that does not impact social distancing, ADA regulations, or safe circulation by pedestrians, bikes, or vehicles.
If you are a business owner and have questions about applying for or operating outdoor dining, please email email@example.com.
If you are a resident and believe a business is not following the guidance listed above, please contact Philly311 by dialing 3-1-1 or submitting a report online.