Regulations for outdoor restaurant seating

Written by stephen flanagan
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Regulations for outdoor restaurant seating
Relaxed atmosphere of outdoor seating (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of MrSco)

While the addition of outdoor seating may seem merely an extension of the existing restaurant, a special permit or license will most likely be required to operate the outside space. Local laws place separate requirements on outdoor restaurant seating.

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Local Regulations

Check local building and fire ordinances to see what the regulations are for outdoor restaurant seating.

Placement of Tables and Chairs

Consider whether there is enough space for the placement of tables and chairs so that the public sidewalk is not obstructed. Travellers must still be able to use the streets and sidewalks, and convenient access to bus stops, mailboxes and fire hydrants must be maintained. Also, standards for accessibility for disabled persons must be met.

Area Limitations

Generally the seating area is limited to the frontage of the restaurant. Some communities require that the dining area be enclosed by a fence.

Regulations for outdoor restaurant seating
Typical fence enclosure for outdoor seating area (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Duncan Rawlinson)

Parking

Adding seats to the restaurant may trigger a requirement for the providing of additional parking.

Time Limitations

Hours of operation for the outdoor seating area may be fewer than the regular hours of operation for the inside restaurant. Seasonal limitations may apply in northern areas.

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