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Sidewalk Cafe Permit

COVID-19 Pandemic Response

City Works to Expand Safe Outdoor Dining Options for Evanston Restaurants

On May 26, the Evanston City Council approved a resolution waiving sidewalk cafe permit fees for 2020 and allowing temporary outdoor seating permits to be issued in accordance with public health guidelines. 

Required by any operation that provides food to the public and operates on the public way.

Frequently Asked Questions 

TERM: April 1 through November 1 or April 1 through March 31.

FEE: Per café components: permit fee, square footage and outside storage. 

RENEWABLE: Yes, but a complete application must be submitted each year.

TRANSFERABLE: No. If the ownership of interior business changes, the sidewalk cafe permit becomes invalid.

CONTACT: Email: or call 847-448-4311.

Apply Online


IMPORTANT: A sidewalk café is the extension of the food service operations of a licensed food establishment and operates on the public way. A first-time café permit application requires approval of the Design & Project Review Committee (DAPR), with exception  of applications to the City Council for a type 1 restaurant, a Enoteca or a Class K liquor licensee with an alcoholic liquor license outside the “core area” as defined in 3-4-1 Liquor Control Regulations of the City Code and desirous of selling alcohol on the sidewalk cafe premises.

Renewal applications are reviewed by Community Development and PWA and, if the proposed set up of the café is not the same as the one approved and on file the application will be deemed new and DAPR or City Council approval is required.

  • The café set up (site plan) must provide for unobstructed passage for pedestrians of a minimum width of 6 feet between the café and any fixture on the sidewalk (parking meter, lamp pole, tree, etc.)
  • All regulations concerning food safety apply.
  • No animals other than service animals are allowed in the sidewalk café. This is true for the interior food establishment as well. Regulations Regarding Animals in Food Establishments
  • No smoking is allowed in either the sidewalk café or the interior food establishment. Smoking is also prohibited within 25 feet of an entrance to an enclosed area in which smoking is prohibited.
  • No amplified music is allowed outside of a restaurant.
  • The café permit and ground plan shall be conspicuously displayed on the exterior wall or window near the main entrance of the establishment during all hours of operation.

Evanston City Code

  • Title 7 Chapter 2 Section 6(D) Occupation of Public Ways for Business Purposes; Permits
  • Title 8 Chapter 8 Food Service and Retail Food Store Sanitation
  • Title 8 Chapter 21 Clean Air Act - Smoking


 Sidewalk Cafe Permit Type  Annual Permit Fee (required)  Permit Fee Per Square Foot* (Seasonal)  Permit Fee Per Square Foot* (Year-round)   Outdoor Storage (optional)**
 Bakery, Ice Cream  $250  $2  $4  $250
 Enoteca or Class K liquor licensee  $250  $2  $4  $250
 Type-1 Restaurant  $300  $3  $6  $250
 Type-2 Restaurant  $300  $3  $6  $300
 Other Food Establishments  $250  $2  $4  $250

* Cost per square foot for the area of the public way occupied by the sidewalk café as determined by the City’s Engineering Department following assessment and approval of site plan.
** For storage of tables, benches or chairs approved sidewalk café area on the city sidewalk

State of Illinois