Philadelphians are dining outdoors now more than ever, and we love to see it! The City’s temporary Outdoor Dining Program has enabled hundreds of restaurants across Philadelphia to earn much-needed revenue by offering outdoor dining, safely. 

Business owners and residents should know that the emergency authorization that has allowed for these expanded outdoor dining options will end on December 31, 2021, unless Philadelphia City Council takes action to extend the program. 

As the weather gets cooler, we wanted to share reminders for safely dining in the right-of-way (in the streets and on the sidewalks).


Heaters powered by electricity, propane, or natural gas are authorized in outdoor dining areas only if they are manufactured for outdoor use, installed safely, and at least three (electric) or five (propane, natural gas) feet from combustible materials. New electrical connections require an electrical permit.

Propane can only be used on the sidewalk and is not allowed to be used in the street or parking lane. When not in use, propane heaters cannot be stored in the street, parking lane, sidewalk, against a building, or within five feet of buildings and building openings, canopies, tents, umbrellas, and anything else that can catch on fire. Propane cannot be stored indoors.

Fire pits and other fires produced by burning solid fuels are prohibited entirely in the right of way. They cannot be used near or under tents or other shelters. Such fires may be permissible on private property only if they are in safe, approved containers at least 15 feet from any type of structure. Kerosene fires are prohibited in all outdoor dining areas.

Guidelines for outdoor dining set-ups

  • Maintain pedestrian flow by creating a clear path (at least six feet wide) of travel for people using the sidewalks, including those who may be using a wheelchair.
  • Maintain clear access to public utilities, fire hydrants, fire department connections (FDC pipes), building entrances, crosswalks, and transit stops.
  • No cooking or food preparation can occur in the right of way.
  • Appropriate lighting is required at night.
  • 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.

If you are a business owner and have questions about applying for or operating outdoor dining, please email

If you are a resident and believe a business is not following the guidelines listed above, please contact Philly311 by dialing 3-1-1 or submitting a report online.