Sidewalk Cafe Guidelines

Sidewalk Café and Sidewalk Merchandise Display
Guidelines & Submission Requirements –10/2003 Revised 8/2004. Revised 4/2005.
Southport Neighborhood Association • Sheil Park Neighbors • West Lakeview Neighbors


a. The length (measured parallel to front lot line) of Outdoor Café’s and Sidewalk Merchandise Display (SMD) shall only be permitted directly in front of the operating establishment.

b. Outdoor Cafés and SMD shall only be permitted beyond the operating establishment only with the verified written consent of adjacent property owners.

c. Outdoor Cafés and SMD depths (measured perpendicular to the front lot line) shall be limited by the Minimum Required Width of Public Walk (see below).

d. Outdoor Cafés shall be clearly designated by barriers separating the public from patrons. Barriers shall be 36” in height. Barriers shall be designed to match the façade of the operation. All barriers must incorporate flower planters or ornamentation that accentuates the barrier. Barriers shall be permanently attached to the sidewalk during the Season of Operation. Barriers shall not have any sharp edges or exposed fasteners.


a. Outdoor cafes and SMD shall be sited adjacent to the business’ building to allow a clear, straight path. This will eliminate wait and sales personal from crossing pedestrians using the street. It also allows a clear area next to the curb to allow passengers of cars to exit their vehicles. See minimum required width of public walk below. No streetside locations will be permitted.


a. Outdoor cafés shall be permitted to begin operation at 7:30 a.m. on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. on weekends.

b. Outdoor café’s shall be closed, cleaned and if necessary all furniture stored by:
i. Sunday through Thursday: 10:00 p.m.
ii. Friday and Saturday: 11:00 p.m.


a. A clear and defined path must be maintained for public access across the entire length of all Outdoor Cafés and SMD at all times.

b. Public paths must meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (A.D.A.), Illinois Accessibility Act and the Mayors Office of Physical Disabilities M.O.P.D.).

c. All paths must be a minimum of 6’-0” in width. A minimum clear path of 6’-0” must be maintained from any part of the Outdoor Café or SMD to any obstruction (for example: street signs, light poles, trees, tree grates/sidewalk openings, newspaper boxes, mailboxes, bicycle racks, etc.) Clear paths to street curbs shall be measured from the back of curb to where Outdoor Café or SMD begins. Refer to handicap accessibility codes for guidelines regarding accessibility over tree grates.

d. All clear width paths shall be measured from the top of the sidewalk to a height of 7’-0” (See Umbrella Requirements below).


a. Umbrellas must be securely fixed at base to prevent toppling from winds up to 25 miles per hour.

b. Minimum height of bottom of umbrellas (measured to lowest point of umbrella’s shielding edge) shall be 7’-0” measured from top of side walk at perimeter of umbrella’s shielding edge. No part of the umbrella’s structure shall project from shielding edge by more than ¼”.

c. Umbrellas shall be permitted to overhang into Minimum Required Width of Public Walk by 3’-0”.


a. Awnings and/or canopies over Outdoor Café shall meet the requirement of the Chicago Building Code (latest edition) and the Chicago Zoning Code (latest edition).

b. Signage on awnings and/or canopies over Outdoor Cafés shall meet the requirement of the Chicago Zoning Ordinance (latest edition).

c. The lowest point of any awning or canopy shall be 7’-0” measured from the sidewalk. d. Awning and/or canopies shall not project beyond the Designated Area of Outdoor Cafés.


a. Sandwich signs and/or other signage shall not be permitted outside the boundaries of the designated Outdoor Café.

b. Sandwich signs and/or other signage shall not be permitted in the Minimum Required Width of Public Walk.

c. Advertising signage may be permitted on barriers. Maximum size of signage shall be three square feet. A maximum of two advertising signs shall be permitted.

d. One temporary “Valet Parking” sign shall be permitted per operation/store. “Valet Parking” sign shall not be permitted in the Minimum Required Width of Public Walk.


a. Outdoor Cafés shall not be used as “beer gardens.” All Outdoor Cafés operations must serve food to patrons using Outdoor Café’s in conjunction with any alcohol being served. Food in this instance shall be defined as food prepared by the operating establishment and shall not consist solely of snack foods such as pretzels, pop-corn, or other “snack foods”.

b. Outdoor Cafés must be clean during operation hours to deter from rodent and birds.

c. It is suggested that a hose bib be installed in the Outdoor Cafés vicinity to clean the sidewalk on a nightly basis.

d. Outdoor Café sidewalks shall be pressure (power) washed at least once every week during operation.

e. The name and contact information of the business operator(s) shall be posted in clear view for comments and/or complaints.

f. The business operator shall be responsible for its patrons’ behavior and not permit their customers to block the public sidewalk area. (This includes waiting for seating arrangements, meeting with patrons while seated, baby stroller parking, etc.).


a. Music (live or recorded) shall not be permitted to be performed or broadcasted in Outdoor Cafés.

b. No outdoor speakers shall be permitted

c. Noise levels shall be maintained at conversation level.


Submit six (6) sets of drawings and if required approval of adjacent owners consent of use. Drawings to include: 1) Plat of Survey of property or building plan, 2) A plan drawing of the Outdoor Café to a minimum scale of 1/8” per foot. Drawing shall indicate dimensions and methods of separation (barriers) from public walk, 3) Indicate a layout of tables, 4) Indicate the maximum number of seats, and 5) All existing streetscape furniture, trees, tree grates/sidewalk openings, signs, etc.

Please note that café permits are renewed annually and community support is necessary each year prior to renewal. Cafés will be evaluated during the season for compliance to these guidelines. Please sign below and return one copy of this document to the Southport Neighborhood Planning and Development Committee with your submission.

I’ve reviewed this document and will comply with all of the Sidewalk Café Guidelines and requirements.

Business Name______________________________________________________

Business Address____________________________________________________

Business Phone____________________________________________________

Alternate Phone (cell/emergency)_______________________________________

Owner/Operating Manager (signature)___________________________________

Owner/Operating Manager (print name)___________________________________

    Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.