City releases guidelines as outdoor dining in Philadelphia begins Friday

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)  Outdoor dining will begin Friday at some Philadelphia restaurants, and the city is working with restaurant owners to help those without outdoor spaces obtain new temporary permits for imaginative places where they will be able to safely add additional seating outside.

City Managing Director Brian Abernathy said there will be four potential options for outdoor dining in Philadelphia.

"A sidewalk cafe allows for daily use of sidewalk area in front of the businesses for restaurant seating" he explained.

Restaurants with patios that already have sidewalk cafe licenses will be allowed to open starting Friday. 

The other three options for outdoor dining will require new permits.

"Streetery allows for curbside parking at street level or platform built on the street to be converted into outdoor dining or takeaway. Temporary use of private lots for dining allows restaurants to convert spaces in their parking lots into restaurant seating and to place seating into vacant lots in most commercial and mixed use zoning districts. Temporary street closure — it's a pilot program beginning this summer that allows for temporary closure on certain streets for shared restaurant seating,” he explained. 

He said all applications for new or expanded outdoor dining will be accepted online beginning Friday, with a review of those applications beginning the following Monday. 

But permits typically have a long review process, which can be difficult for an industry that has already been hit hard due to forced coronavirus-related closures. 

"We've committed to a three-day turn around for sidewalk cafes and for what we're calling Streeteries along the curb lane in parking spaces,” said Mike Carroll, the city deputy managing director.

Carroll also said the city will be working with PennDOT to facilitate street closures when the requests apply to state routes.

"It wouldn't be for the whole summer, it would be an event type closure and it might extend for as long as, I'll call it 60 hours. So it could be a Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night type closure,” Carroll said.

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