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Sidewalk Cafe: How to Operate

Once you are up and running, here’s what you need to know.
General Requirements
Hours of Operation

General Requirements

  • Sidewalk cafes must be kept clean, well-maintained, and clear of trash, debris, graffiti, vermin, food scraps, and unsanitary conditions.
  • A restaurant must maintain good order including proper conduct of patrons and preventing excessive congregation of restaurant patrons immediately adjacent to the setup.
  • Furnishings and decorative elements such as tables, chairs, tabletop lighting, etc. must be secured during non-operating hours, but cannot block or impede access to utility infrastructure.
    • Umbrellas and overhead coverings must be secured during inclement weather such as high winds or heavy snow.  
  • No smoking or e-cigarettes are allowed.
  • Unreasonable Noise:
  • Restaurant staff must serve patrons from within the sidewalk cafe. Restaurants cannot use the sidewalk to serve patrons. 
  • Alcohol may only be served if permitted by the NYS Liquor Authority.
  • A restaurant must keep on hand a copy of the outdoor dining license and make it available upon request by a government official or inspector.


The dining area must be accessible to persons with disabilities and comply with applicable requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the NYC Building Code.

Hours of Operation

You are permitted to operate during the following hours:

  • Sunday, 10 a.m. to midnight
  • Monday, 8 a.m. to midnight
  • Tuesday, 8 a.m. to midnight
  • Wednesday, 8 a.m. to midnight
  • Thursday, 8 a.m. to midnight
  • Friday, 8 a.m. to midnight
  • Saturday, 8 a.m. to midnight


Non-Compliant Setups

  • For first time violations, restaurants will receive a corrective action request (CAR) which will provide the restaurant with 30 days to correct the violation before NYC DOT issues a summons for a violation.
  • Restaurants that are not in compliance with any of the operation and management or design requirements contained within sections 19-160.1, 19-160.4, and 19-160.6 of the NYC Administrative Code or sections 5-10 and 5-11 of Title 34 of the Rules of the City of New York may be subject to the following penalties:
    • $200 for the first offense
    • $500 for the second and subsequent offenses
  • Pursuant to section 19-160.5(c) of the NYC Administrative Code, for restaurants that are repeatedly found to be non-complaint, NYC DOT may suspend or revoke the license and order the removal of the outdoor dining setup after an opportunity to be heard.

Unlicensed Setups:

  • Restaurants that operate outdoor dining without a license and revocable consent may be subject to the following penalties and/or ordered by NYC DOT to remove their outdoor dining setup.
    • $500 for the first offense
    • $1,000 for the second and subsequent offenses