Obtaining a Sidewalk Cafe Permit

BACP has launched a new online portal for all Public Way Use Permits, include Sidewalk Cafes. Use this portal to apply for a Sidewalk Cafe renewal or new issuance.


Through the BACP-issued sidewalk café permit, brick-and-mortar retail food establishments can extend onto the sidewalk directly in front of or adjacent to the establishment. Cafes are a pillar of Chicago’s food services industry and provide a great opportunity for business owners and customers to reopen safely during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Requirements:

  • Applicants must have a valid Retail Food Establishment license.
  • Applicants intending to serve liquor at a Sidewalk Cafe must have a valid Liquor license pursuant to Chapter 4-60 of the Municipal Code of the City of Chicago.
  • Sidewalk cafes must be located on the sidewalk only- they cannot extend into the street or empty lots.
  • Sidewalk cafes must have a boundary that fully encloses the permitted area and separates the area from the remainder of the public way, with the exception of the entrance.
  • Sidewalk cafes must be positioned to allow for a 6-feet clearance for pedestrians on the sidewalk.
  • A full list of requirements can be found in the Online Sidewalk Café Application and in the Sidewalk Cafe Rules and Regulations

How to apply:

  • Beginning April, 2021, BACP has launched a new web portal that now processes all Public Way Use transactions, including the issuance and renewal of Sidewalk Cafe Permits. Read the Industry Notice for more information. 
  • Applicants will need to create an account in the new portal system and submit the full application through the portal. Additional information, including required materials, can be found on the portal - APPLY TODAY
  • The Certificate of Insurance must be uploaded to the portal before BACP can approve the application – the full list of required materials can be found on the portal
  • After approving applications, applicants will be directed to pay via the portal.
  • Upon payment, BACP will notify the applicant electronically that the permit has been approved. The permit itself and the approved plan must be printed and displayed on the exterior wall or window of the main entrance of the establishment during all hours of operation.
  • Questions can be submitted to BACP at publicwayuse@cityofchicago.org.

Temporary Reforms to the Sidewalk Cafe Permit Process for COVID-19:

Chicago has implemented temporary changes to the sidewalk cafe permit to make it easier and cheaper to acquire a permit as Chicago begins to cautiously reopen:

  1. 75 percent permit fee reduction
  2. Ability to extend sidewalk cafes in front of a neighboring property
  3. Expedited permit issuance process

Learn more about these temporary reforms

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