Chicago Sidewalk Cafe Ordinance Reminders

Sidewalk Café owners, we love our outdoor patios/cafés and want to ensure that they are operating in compliance with all of the City of Chicago ordinances. Please take a minute to revisit the 2016 City of Chicago Sidewalk Café Program Application and Information Package. If you notice that you are not in compliance, please take the necessary steps to correct the issue otherwise the patio/café is subject to violations, fines and possibly permit revocation.

The following is a list of most frequently cited conditions. Please take special note and do not hesitate to contact our office or the Department of Business Affairs Consumer Protection at 312.74.GOBIZ with any questions.

For the sidewalk cafe information packet and application, click here



(A) Sidewalk Cafés permitted under this article shall not operate earlier than 8:00 a.m. nor later than 12:00 midnight. (B) Sidewalk Cafés permitted under this article shall not play music, whether live or recorded, nor allow music to be played at the Sidewalk Café, other than through headphones. (C) The operator of a Sidewalk Café shall install and maintain a physical boundary separating the permitted outdoor seating from the remainder of the public way. The operator shall leave six feet of public way unobstructed for pedestrian passage; the Commissioner may alter this requirement by regulation in a situation where adherence to the requirement would make operation of a Sidewalk Café impossible and reduction of the unobstructed portion of the public way would not compromise pedestrian safety. The construction, configuration and other characteristics of the boundary, including landscaping, shall be set forth by regulation.



Sidewalk café boundaries must be constructed to provide cane detection for pedestrians who are blind or have visual impairments. A continuous uninterrupted fence or barricade meets this requirement if it has a continuous, firm barrier located 27 inches above ground or lower. If the fence or barricade is not continuous or if the barricade consists of posts or other objects connected by hanging ropes, chains or nylon strips, a detectable barrier must run continuously along the pedestrian side of the barricade or fence at a height of 27 inches or less. A minimum clearance of one (1) foot from the Sidewalk Café to the edge of the curb.

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