Temporary Sidewalk Cafe Permits to Support Bars and Restaurants

Update 4/5/2022 - Saint Paul's emergency declaration from Mayor Carter expired on April 5, 2022. The expiration has ended all emergency executive orders, including the Temporary C-19 Obstruction Permits. The information below is for reference only.

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 January 2022 Mayor Carter signed Executive Order 2022-8, extending the temporary permission, with certain requirements, to business owners to facilitate commercial uses of outdoor space to serve customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Executive Order allows sidewalk café and liquor outdoor service areas to operate in the public right of way—subject to certain restrictions—while seeking to ensure that a business's furnishings are removed from the public right of way in the event of a declared Snow Emergency.

All 2020 Temporary C-19 Obstruction Permits issued by Public Works, and Temporary C-19 Seasonal Outdoor Service Area licenses, issued by the Department of Safety and Inspections, have been rescinded as of March 2021. Business owners were required to submit 2021 Temporary C-19 Obstruction Permit applications for the 2021 season. In addition, those business owners who want to temporarily expand their current licensed Outdoor Service (Patio) or Sidewalk Cafe service areas, or add a Temporary C-19 Seasonal Outdoor Service Area license, also must submit an application for 2021

Issuance of 2021 Temporary C-19 Obstruction Permits will require permit holders to agree to immediately remove all sidewalk cafe furniture and equipment whenever the City of Saint Paul calls a Snow Emergency. Subsequent replacement of the furniture and equipment can only occur after receiving notification from the City allowing replacement. 

The Mayor’s order covers restaurants, bars, brew-on-premise, general retail and other businesses. 

City Permit and License Requirements   

If I  am a...

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Business owner who holds an active Seasonal Outside Service Area (patio and/or sidewalk café) license and/or 2021 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 private property not owned by me. 

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 Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI) will contact you with any questions about the proof of insurance already on file.

Business owner who does not have a 2021 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 to DSI for a Temporary C-19 Seasonal Outside Service Area license and a Temporary C-19 Right of Way Obstruction permit to the Department of Public Works. 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 will need to submit an application for a Temporary C-19 Seasonal Outside Service Area license to DSI 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. 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 their existing service area. 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.   

Temporary C-19 Right of Way (ROW) Obstruction Permits 

Temporary C-19 Obstruction Permit (Sidewalk Cafe) are no longer being issued. If a restaurant had a sidewalk cafe in 2021 with a Temporary C-19 Obstruction Permit, they will need to apply for a Sidewalk Cafe Obstruction Permit in 2022 to have a sidewalk cafe. If you have questions, please contact the Right of Way Division at 651-266-6151 or PW-ROWpermits@ci.stpaul.mn.us.  

If you have questions about your existing Seasonal Outdoor Service Area license, please contact Ross Haddow at ross.haddow@ci.stpaul.mn.us.

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Last Edited: April 6, 2022