Good Question: What are the policies for outdoor seating for restaurants in Rochester?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — What are the rules for sidewalk seating for restaurants in Rochester? If you walk down Park Avenue, you’ll notice almost every restaurant has tables and seating outdoors.

Ronald writes: “the downtown Rochester area has several eating establishments that have outdoor seating setup on sidewalks outside their businesses. Are there any city regulations in place regarding such and, if so, what are the restrictions?”

The city’s website says a permit is required for outdoor seating. There is a list of sidewalk café rules and regulations including:

  • The sidewalk must connect with a business on the first floor of a building
  • There must be at least two tables and four chairs
  • The seating cannot take up more than a third of the width of the sidewalk
  • No outdoor seating when there’s two inches of snow or more
  • Restaurants must re-apply for a permit every year

You can see a full list of regulations here. The list of regulations also includes keeping a five foot gap between seats and crosswalks as well as keeping three feet between seats and trash cans.

If a restaurant wants to put up a temporary outdoor structure, like a tent, there’s a separate list of regulations. For example, temporary outdoor structures that hold multiple parties must have at least 50% of the sides open to allow air flow. You can see the regulations here: