Sidewalk Cafe License


This license is for food establishments, such as a restaurant or a coffee shop, that wish to provide outdoor seating for patrons on the public sidewalk which immediately adjoins the licensed premises. In addition to this license, a Public Works Obstruction Permit must also be obtained, to allow the tables and chairs to be placed in the public right–of-way. The application for both the Sidewalk Cafe License and the Obstruction Permit (Supplemental License Application for Sidewalk Seating application) is submitted to (DSI) Department of Safety & Inspections. If you have questions, contact DSI at 651-266-8989, or email the DSI Message Center.

If alcohol service is proposed on the public sidewalk, there are additional requirements to be met before the Liquor Outdoor Service Area (Sidewalk) license can be issued. 

Code Requirements

The placement of furnishings related to the sidewalk café must meet specific requirements as found under Chapter 106 of the Saint Paul Legislative Code. A summary of these requirements is explained in the Sidewalk Café Site Plan Standards handout, and illustrated on the example site plan drawing. The general intent of these requirements is to provide a clear unobstructed pedestrian walk through zone (minimum 48 inch width, exclusive of the curb), positioned to minimize interference with pedestrian traffic, and not interfere with emergency exiting from the building. The location for the placement of any furnishings must be approved by the City of Saint Paul’s Department of Public Works prior to placing any items on the public sidewalk.

A summary of the alcohol service proposed on the public sidewalk requirements can be found under the Liquor Outdoor Service Area (Sidewalk) handout, or under Chapter 409 of the Saint Paul Legislative Code.

Application Requirements

  • A completed Supplemental License Application for Sidewalk Seating application form (NOTE:  be sure to clearly indicate on the application if you are applying for a Sidewalk Cafe (no liquor service) or Liquor Outdoor Service Area (Sidewalk) license)
  • A site plan of the proposed sidewalk cafe area drawn in accordance with the Sidewalk Cafe Site Plan Standards handout
  • For an application including outdoor liquor service, include a consent petition of residences and apartment houses within 300 feet of the location. Petition requirements are explained in the Liquor Outdoor Service Area (Sidewalk) handout. 
  • A Certificate of Insurance with general liability of at least $500,000 that states that the coverage extends to the area used for the sidewalk café and that the City of Saint Paul is named as an additional insured.
  • A Service Availability Charge (SAC) determination letter from the Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES).  The addition of seating provided in the outdoor seating area is subject to a SAC review by MCES. This is a one time fee (separate from the permit or license fee) that each municipality in the seven county metro area must collect for new connections or anticipated volume discharge into the wastewater system at the time of permit or license issuance.  Payment of any SAC fee owed must be submitted to DSI under the issuance of a building permit.
  • Required $95.00 annual fee per location ($35.00 for the Sidewalk Cafe License and $60.00 for the Public Works Obstruction Permit).


This license requires inspection approvals from DSI Licensing, (Phone: 651-266-8989), and Public Works (Phone: 651-266-6151). Food cannot be prepared outdoors without approval from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), (Phone: 651-201-4500).  


A Sidewalk Cafe License will expire on the same date your general liability insurance expires and may be renewed annually. The Public Works Obstruction Permit is only valid from April 1st to October 31st of each year. You must obtain a new permit in January of each year that you intend to place furnishings related to a sidewalk cafe on the public sidewalk.