Sidewalk Cafe Permit

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

TERM: April 1 through November 1.

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. The review of a first-time café permit application includes Engineering, Health, Law, and City Council. Renewal applications are reviewed by Health and Law and, if the proposed set up of the café is not the same as the one approved and on file with the City, Engineering.

  • 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.

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

State of Illinois