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The Open Restaurants program allows restaurants and bars to place seating on the sidewalk or parking lane in front of their establishments.

Before they can open their outdoor dining areas, food establishments must self-certify that they meet program guidelines. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is proactively inspecting restaurants participating in the Open Restaurants Program.

You can report an outdoor dining area that is:

  • Abandoned
  • Blocking sidewalks or streets
  • Blocking neighboring building entrances
  • Lacking required barriers, ramps, or platforms
  • Lacking ramps that cover electrical wiring crossing the sidewalk or street
  • Not set up with proper roadway barriers
  • Not accessible for people with disabilities
  • Not authorized by the Open Restaurants program
  • Serving alcohol without a license

You must include the exact street address of the food establishment in your report.

Blocked Sidewalk

Sidewalk seating must maintain an 8-foot path for pedestrians free from obstructions between the seating and the curb.

Seating also can’t block:

  • Bike racks
  • Bus stop shelters or waiting areas
  • Siamese water connections
  • Sidewalk grates
  • Utility covers

Seating Set Up Incorrectly

You can report sidewalk seating that is:

Barrier Missing or Not in Compliance

Open Restaurants can place dining areas at the curb or parking lane on the street in front of their business.

To protect customers and ensure visibility by motorists, restaurants must separate curb lane seating from the travel lane with barriers on all three sides of the seating area that are in the roadway. Barriers can be planters or objects of similar size and weight.

They must be:

  • At least 18 inches in width and 30-36 inches in height (excluding plantings)
  • Marked with yellow high intensity retro-reflective tape or reflectors
  • Placed directly next to each other with no gaps
  • No more than 8 feet from the curb

Open Restaurants must also implement safety enhancements during winter months.

Barriers must:

  • Have a fully built interior wall and bottom to hold filler material
  • Be completely filled with soil or sand

Site Set Up Incorrectly

You can report curb lane seating or barriers that:

Tents or Umbrellas

You can report tents, umbrellas, or other shelters that are:

  • Greater than 400 square feet
  • Not secured properly and safely
  • Bolted to the street
  • Extending past the barriers
  • Blocking utility covers
  • Blocking clear paths
  • Used during inclement weather, such as high wind conditions

Blocked Street Zones

Open Restaurants with on-street seating can’t block:

  • Bike lanes
  • Bus stops
  • Car share or bike share spaces
  • Crosswalks or vehicle turning zones
  • Fire hydrants
  • No Standing or No Stopping Anytime zones

Blocked Utility Cover

Dining areas can’t block access to or ventilation of utility covers.

You can report that valve, catch basin/storm drain, manhole, and ventilated grating covers are blocked by an outdoor seating area.

Platform Defective

To comply with accessibility guidelines, prevent the curb from becoming a tripping hazard, and allow drainage to pass under seating, restaurants may install platforms.

You can report platforms that are:

  • Not connected to the curb
  • Blocking rainwater drainage to or along the curb
  • Blocking access to ventilation or utility covers

If a restaurant permanently closes but leaves their Open Restaurants setup in the roadway, that property is considered abandoned.

Signs that a restaurant may be permanently closed include:

  • A “for sale” or “for lease” sign posted on the property
  • Site setup items that are severely damaged and not suitable for use by patrons, or which pose a danger to the public

Open Restaurants seating must meet accessibility guidelines and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Restaurants must:

  • Maintain a 36-inch minimum route throughout the seating area
  • Install curb ramps or platforms to connect the sidewalk to the street level
  • Install ramps that cover electrical wiring crossing the sidewalk or on the roadway
  • Make at least 5% of dining surfaces (but no less than 1) accessible for seating and standing

Learn more about accessibility requirements.

Before opening outdoor seating areas, food establishments must self-certify that they meet Open Restaurants program requirements with the Department of Transportation (DOT).

All restaurants with authorization are listed in the Open Restaurants Database.

Alcohol Service

Bars and restaurants can serve alcoholic beverages only if they are licensed by the State Liquor Authority and submit all appropriate documents with their Open Restaurants application.

To report an Open Restaurant serving alcohol without a license, visit the Alcohol License Check page.

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