Outdoor Dining is Here to Stay

Written by: Alan Nochumson

Outdoor seating has long been a part of the dining culture in Philadelphia and provided a lifeline to restaurant establishments throughout the height of the pandemic. Now, the once-temporary outdoor dining program has been made permanent with the passage of Bill 210776.

The governmental program, which incorporated feedback from owners of restaurant establishments and residents, allows restaurant establishments to provide outdoor seating on designated city sidewalks and streets.

The new governmental program offers 2 different outdoor dining licenses:

  1. Streetery License – Allows eligible restaurant establishments to occupy a designated portion of the parking lane on authorized city streets in front of the restaurant establishment, including provisions for furniture, shelters, enclosures, and crash-worthy protective barriers.
  1. Sidewalk Café License – Allows eligible restaurant establishments to occupy sections of the sidewalk in front of their storefront for outdoor dining.

Streetery License

Applications for the Streetery license are now online through the eCLIPSE system to restaurant establishments situated in certain designated areas in the city.

The application has a non-refundable fee of $200 credited towards the fee of $1,750 for a Streetery License issued by the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I). This fee must be paid annually to renew the Streetery License.

To be eligible for a Streetery License, at a minimum, the applicant must have a commercial activity license, a Business Income and Receipts Tax Identification number, a valid food preparation and serving license, and be either tax compliant with the city government in Philadelphia or on an approved tax repayment plan.

The applicant must first obtain pre-requisite approval from the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Streets via an online form on the Department of Streets’ website. The remainder of the application process will take place on eCLIPSE and will be available online on December 1, 2022.

If the applicant is proposing a structure for its Streetery License, the Department of Streets will automatically request approval from the Art Commission.

Next, L&I will physically visit the restaurant establishment and issue a building permit if the structure is approved.

If the structure is approved or no structure is proposed, L&I will issue a Streetery License after an inter-agency review is completed.

The city government in Philadelphia recently published a Philadelphia Streetery License Guide, which details the governmental program’s goals, site requirements, placement requirements, structural and operational requirements, and more.

Sidewalk Café License

Applications for a Sidewalk Café License are now available online on the eCLIPSE system.

At a minimum, the applicant is required to have an approved café plot plan, Business Income and Receipts Tax Identification number, a Commercial Activity License number, and a food preparation and serving license.

If approved, the Department of Streets’ Right-of-Way Unit will issue an agreement to be signed by the applicant.

In addition, the applicant must be compliant with all taxes levied by the city government in Philadelphia or have an approved repayment plan.

The processing fee for the application is $186 and the license must be renewed annually at a fee also of $186.

Importantly, if a restaurant establishment wishes to offer outdoor seating on the sidewalk and in a parking lane, the restaurant establishment must obtain both a Streetery License and Sidewalk Café License.

To learn more about the inner workings of these governmental programs, please contact Alan Nochumson either at (215) 600-2851 or alan.nochumson@nochumson.com.