Flower City

Winter Sidewalks

Let’s get creative with Rochester’s outdoor spaces!


Some restaurants and bars may find it challenging to maintain safe distances between customers while accommodating enough customers to stay in business through the winter months. To tackle that problem, businesses all over the country are using temporary structures like greenhouses, igloos, tents, and custom builds to provide a unique dining experience during these challenging times.


The City of Rochester wants to help businesses as they work toward providing outdoor winter seating, whether it is on sidewalks and streets or on private property. If you are interested in having outdoor seating, ALL PERMIT FEES WILL BE WAIVED.


We encourage interested businesses to apply for participation as soon as possible. Below are the different options available to restaurants and bars, including links to permit applications. 


Guidelines to consider before applying: 

OPTION 1:  Free Greenhouse Lottery! 

Mayor Lovey A. Warren and Roc Holiday Village announced that the Rochester Area Community Foundation and ESL Federal Credit Union are the lead sponsors of an initiative to provide free winter greenhouses for up 25 city restaurants to offer outdoor dining options during the coronavirus pandemic. Other programs sponsors include Rochester Regional Health, the Anthony Butera Team at Keller Williams, 13WHAM, CW, Fox Rochester, and iHeartMedia.”

The winter greenhouses provide restaurants an opportunity to extend their business space outside and remain compliant with State coronavirus guidelines. The City is waiving outdoor dining permit fees during the pandemic and has developed a streamlined permitting process to facilitate a fast and safe opening. There is also no fee for the setup and take down of the structure.

To learn more about the program, visit rocholidayvillage.com. The deadline to apply for this program was Monday, January 11 at 5pm.

If you are not interested in the lottery, or are not selected, there are other options for purchasing, renting, or even constructing your own temporary structure/tent, as described below in Options 2A and 2B. All options are subject to the guidelines and requirements listed above.

OPTION 2A:  Restaurant’s Supply Their Own Structure/Tent in the Public Right-of-Way (Sidewalk Café Permit)

Certain portions of the public right-of-way, including on-street parking lanes and areas adjacent to sidewalks such as tree lawns, may be temporarily converted to outdoor seating for adjacent businesses. Please visit the City’s Right-of-Way Permits site if you’re interested and apply for a Sidewalk Café Permit. While this is not a new permit type, due to the current health restrictions in place, the City is waiving the permit fees and has included additional stipulations related to social distancing. Safe and accessible pedestrian and wheelchair traffic will need to be accommodated.


Once the required information is submitted, City staff will follow up quickly with any modifications or revisions to ensure that you are in compliance.



Current locations:

Railroad St at Black Button, Rohrbach's, Boxcar, and Bitter Honey

Check back for updates!


OPTION 2B:  Restaurants Supply Their Own Structure/Tent on Private Property (Enclosed Accessory Outdoor Area Permit)

This is a new option to allow restaurants and bars to use their parking area or other spaces on their property for outdoor seating. To allow businesses to utilize parking lots, requirements for a minimum number of parking spaces are temporarily being waived for applicants. There is no fee for applying.


Once the required information is submitted, City staff will follow up quickly with any modifications or revisions to ensure that you are in compliance.



Current locations:

Check back for updates!


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