Business License Measures to Support Restaurants and Bars

Business License Measures to Support Bars and Restaurants During Stay Safe MN 

The City of Saint Paul streamlined processes for restaurant and bar owners who wished to safely reopen in June, as permitted by the Governor’s executive orders.  On May 27, 2020, Mayor Melvin Carter issued executive order 2020-10, which allowed for expanded use of outdoor space, streamlined some procedures, and waived associated fees. In September, Mayor Carter signed Executive Order 2020-27, extending the temporary permission, with some additional requirements, to business owners to facilitate commercial uses of outdoor space to serve customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The order allows sidewalk café and liquor outdoor service areas to operate in the public right-of-way, while seeking to ensure that the business's furnishings are removed from the public right of way once the snow season begins.

The Mayor’s order covers restaurants, bars, brew-on-premise, general retail and other businesses. The order supplements protocols issued by the state, "Industry Guidance for Safely Reopening: Restaurants and Bars," which includes these requirements: 

  • Develop and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.
  • Ensure a minimum of 6 feet of distance between parties.   
  • Limit indoor occupant capacity to no more than 50%, up to 250 persons.
  • Do not exceed 250 persons in outdoor spaces.
  • Limit party size in dining rooms to 10 people. 
  • Limit party size in bar areas to 4 persons.
  • Require all patrons to be seated. 
  • Do not allow patrons to dance. 
  • Require reservations.
  • Require workers to wear masks at all times. 

The order covers businesses that currently hold active, unexpired sidewalk café permits and seasonal outside service area (patio) licenses, and those businesses that need such permits and license.  

City Permit and License Requirements   

If I  am a...

To begin operations...

Business owner who holds an active Seasonal Outside Service Area (patio and/or sidewalk café) license and/or 2020 Sidewalk Café permit.  I will not be expanding any of my outdoor service area(s) and will not be applying for a Temporary C-19 Seasonal Outdoor Service Area license.    

You may open under the terms of your existing license and/or permit, provided you follow DEED and MDH guidance and other legal requirements, such as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.   

Business owner who wants to expand the footprint of an existing seasonal outdoor service area (patio or sidewalk café) into my own private property (such as my business’s adjacent parking area) or property not owned by me. 

You may open only your existing seasonal outdoor service area(s) as of June. To expand the footprint of an existing outdoor service area you need to submit an application for a Temporary C-19 Seasonal Outside Service Area license, and comply with the Liquor, Wine or Beer Requirements below. You also need to follow DEED and MDH guidance and other legal requirements, such as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. The City will contact you with any questions about the proof of insurance already on file.

Business owner who does not have a 2020 liquor license or Sidewalk Café permit.  I want to create an outside seating area to serve food and non-alcoholic beverages on the sidewalk.   

Submit an application for a Temporary C-19 Right of Way Obstruction permit.  You may open if you submit a signed application and required insurance policy, follow DEED and MDH guidance and other legal requirements, such as ADA regulations. 

Business owner who has an active, unexpired liquor license.  I want to create a new outdoor service area on the sidewalk and serve liquor, wine or beer there.   

You must submit an application for a Temporary C-19 Seasonal Outside Service Area license and a Temporary C-19 Right of Way Obstruction permit You must also follow the Liquor, Wine or Beer Requirements below. 

Liquor, wine or beer requirements 

Businesses that hold a license to serve liquor, or wine and/or beer, and wish to expand their current Liquor-Seasonal Outside Service Area (Patio) license service area and/or expand their Liquor Sidewalk Café license service area will need to submit an application for a Temporary C-19 Seasonal Outside Service Area license and include the following:               

  1. Site Plan - a drawing of the “compact and contiguous area” (per Minnesota State Statute) where the desired expansion of alcohol service will take place, showing table and chair placement 6 feet apart from one another. The drawing must also designate the location of any charitable gambling equipment if applicable.   
  2. Land Use Authorization - Proof of ownership of service area(s) designated for expansion, or a written agreement showing that the neighboring private property owner authorizes the use of the area(s) designated for expansion.  
  3. Insurance - General liability certificates that name the City will be required for applicants who want to establish new service areas on public property (sidewalks) or expand the service area of an existing, actively issued Liquor Sidewalk Café license.  More information on insurance requirements is available through the City. 

Requirements temporarily suspended for Seasonal Outside Service Area licenses and Sidewalk Cafe permits included in the Mayor’s orders: 

  • All permit and license fees are waived; 
  • Public hearing and notice requirements are waived; 
  • Consent of neighboring property owners is waived, provided that legal authority exists (i.e., an agreement with a neighboring property owner) to use the proposed outdoor space; 
  • Business and temporary sign regulations are waived, except for traffic and safety sign requirements; 
  • Off-street parking requirements are waived, provided the establishment has the legal right to occupy the area and the parking is not required by the Americans with Disabilities Act; and 
  • Requirements for Conditional Use Permits are waived.   

Sidewalk Café permits 

To support the reopening and operation of restaurants under the current federal and state guidelines, Saint Paul Public Works is allowing food establishments, such as restaurants and coffee shops, to establish temporary outdoor eating areas. A business looking to create an outdoor eating area in the public right of way during the COVID-19 pandemic must obtain a Temporary C-19 Sidewalk Cafe Permit. For more information about the Temporary C-19 Sidewalk Cafe Permit and Right of Way (ROW) applications, please review the following documents:

If you have questions about your existing Seasonal Outdoor Service Area license, or how to apply for a Temporary C-19 Outdoor Service Area license, please contact Ross Haddow at

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Last Edited: October 16, 2020