Renovations: Sidewalk Cafés


Sidewalk Café projects involve extending a portion of a restaurant's space, operated under permit from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH), beyond the allowed space within the building, to additional space located on a public sidewalk, either as an enclosed or unenclosed space.

  • Enclosed Sidewalk Café.  An enclosed area on the public sidewalk in front of the restaurant constructed predominantly of light materials such as glass, plastic, or lightweight metal.
  • Unenclosed Sidewalk Café.  An outdoor area on the public sidewalk in front of the restaurant containing removable tables and chairs.

Types of project work for a Sidewalk Café may consist of an awning, accessible access, compliant egress, outdoor natural gas fired heaters, and/or new lighting systems, and include:
  • New enclosed Sidewalk Café.  New enclosed Sidewalk Café as part of a new or existing restaurant.
  • New unenclosed Sidewalk Café.  New unenclosed Sidewalk Café as part of a new or existing restaurant.
  • Renovation of existing enclosed Sidewalk Café.  Construction that renovates an existing enclosed Sidewalk Café.
  • Renovation of existing unenclosed Sidewalk Café.  Construction that renovates an existing unenclosed Sidewalk Café.

PROJECT NOTES:
  • Enclosed sidewalk cafés must be constructed of noncombustible materials.
  • Sidewalk café enclosures shall not extend more than 8 feet above sidewalk.
  • Elements of the sidewalk café shall NOT obstruct exit from a building, fire escape drop ladders, mechanical ventilation, standpipe connections, signage or outlets.
  • Sidewalk cafés must not be installed too close to intersections where cars can interfere with seated customers and possibly cause accidents.
  • Sidewalk cafés should not be located in bus stop zones or near fire hydrants, trees, utility poles or parking signs.

Sidewalk Café Regulations

Sidewalk Cafés provided beyond the building line shall comply with the requirements of BC 3111, the New York City Zoning Resolution, and with the projection limitations of Chapter 32 of the NYC Building Code.

Property Owners must hire a New York State licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) or Registered Architect (R.A.) to submit plans.  In addition to the Department, other City agencies regulate Sidewalk Cafés and require approval/license:

  • Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA): Property Owners must obtain a Revocable Consent, Sidewalk Café license (link to http://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/businesses/license-checklist-sidewalk-cafe.page), from DCA, and the sidewalk café must be constructed according to the DCA-approved application.
  • Department of City Planning (DCP): Sidewalk café proposals must meet applicable zoning requirements and obtain a DCP special permit as required by Article 1 Chapter 4 of the Zoning Resolution.

  • Department of Transportation (DOT): Property Owners must have sidewalk café permits from the Department of Transportation’s Office of Construction Mitigation Coordination.

  • Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC): Sidewalk cafés located in historic districts or as part of a designated landmark must be approved by LPC.

  • Other Agencies:

    • The NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and New York City Fire Department (FDNY) regulate fire hydrants

    • The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) regulates sidewalk grates, subway entrances and bus stops.

    • Utility companies are involved when utility poles are relocated or removed.

    • The United States Postal Service may require written consent to relocate or remove a mailbox.

    • The Community Board may require approval.

Property Owners and Contractors who illegally install a Sidewalk Café are issued Environmental Control Board (ECB) violations, and may face court appearances, fines and civil penalties, potentially receiving multiple violations with significant remediation costs.


Project Categories:

  1. Building Systems Installation & Modifications

  2. Renovations

  3. Construction Equipment

  4. Alterations COMING SOON!

  5. Demolition COMING SOON!

  6. New Buildings COMING SOON!


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