Sidewalk Cafe Full Year

A part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Small Business reforms, the Sidewalk Café permit season has been extended to allow for year-round operation. This initiative, which will ease unnecessary regulations on business owners, will provide café owners the opportunity to operate for three additional months at no additional cost.

If a restaurant wants to operate a Sidewalk Café during winter months, who are we to say no?

The Sidewalk Café Rules and Regulations have been updated to make winter operation easier and to clarify regulations that might apply during colder weather:

Use of Sidewalk Cafe

  • Café space cannot be used for storage of café furniture or snow


  • Full enclosures of Sidewalk Cafes are not permitted (any partial enclosure, such as an awning, would need to obtain Department of Building permits for installation)


  • Any heating equipment needs to be identified on the site plan and be located at least three feet in any direction from any structure, as well as be compliant with existing Fire Prevention Code regulations

Snow Removal

  • Licensees are responsible to shovel and remove snow from the public right of way in front of their premise
  • All Sidewalk Café furniture and structure must be removed in the following situations:
    • once two inches of snow has accumulated, for cafes abutting the building
    • once any amount of snow has accumulated, for cafes abutting the street

Beautification Plans

  • Beautification of the Sidewalk Café does not need to be live plants during the colder months

In 2019, new licenses will be issued on March 1st and will automatically extend for the full 12 months. Operation is allowed this winter as well – current Sidewalk Café operators will need to submit an Attestation and Acceptance of Terms in order to receive an extended café permit for the remainder of this year’s café season (December 1, 2018 through February 28, 2019). 


Please visit BACP’s Public Way Use unit webpage with any questions or concerns.


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