New Opportunity in Open-Air Dining

In Seattle, we love our summers and the chance to get out and enjoy the sunshine. Eating is no exception, and we have hundreds of sidewalk cafes throughout our city. To help these sidewalk cafes proliferate, and make the process easier, we’re piloting a new design for sidewalk cafes.

Thanks to a recent change by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, restaurants can now outline permitted sidewalk cafes with pavement markers instead of the standard 42-inch high fences. Modeled on the sidewalk seating used in many European cities, this fence-free option will allow Seattle restaurants to integrate their sidewalk cafes with adjacent public space and improve customer movement. Other U.S. cities, such as Portland and San Francisco already allow fence-free sidewalk cafes similar to those that will be tested in Seattle’s pilot program.

 

San Francisco sidewalk café. Source: Map data ©2016 Google

San Francisco sidewalk cafe. Source: Map data ©2016 Google

We will work with participants to install pavement markers on the sidewalk to outline the boundary of the cafe, as shown in the diagram below. Through this pilot permit, we will test the viability of a fence-free sidewalk cafe with applicants who are willing to provide feedback during our evaluation. Although the fence-free sidewalk cafes are intended to activate streets, create more vibrant neighborhoods, and support economic vitality, ultimately SDOT is committed to ensuring that our streets and sidewalks serve the traveling public. As such, City staff will pay particular attention to any negative impacts on pedestrian mobility and safety that may arise during the pilot phase.

cafe marker

 

Are you a restaurant owner curious about what this would look like for your business? Review our fact sheet and keep an eye on our webpage for additional information as the pilot progresses. Feel free to reach out to us with questions or interest in participating: 206-733-9707 or casey.rogers@seattle.gov.