To provide safer dining options for residents and support the restaurant community during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Worcester has implemented a Temporary Outdoor Dining Program. The Temporary Outdoor Dining program establishes an expedited permitting process through which restaurants are able to offer expanded outdoor dining options.
Under the program, normal requirements, zoning and licensing requirements related to parking, location of outdoor dining areas and size of outdoor dining areas are relaxed, allowing considerable flexibility for restaurants to establish outdoor dining areas on a temporary basis during the pandemic. There is no fee to apply for a temporary outdoor dining extension.
Restaurants participating in the Temporary Outdoor Dining program must comply with rules established by the License Commission and all guidelines and protocols of the Commonwealth. Building code, fire code and accessibility requirements apply.
Licenses granted under the program are issued under the authorization of COVID-19 Executive Orders issued by the Governor and the City Manager. All Temporary Outdoor Dining licenses will terminate 60 days following the end of the Governor's declared State of Emergency, or earlier if specified on the license.
Applicants for extensions under the Temporary Outdoor Dining program should complete and submit the Temporary Outdoor Dining application. In addition, and outdoor dining areas proposed for public sidewalks must also submit a Supplemental Application for Sidewalk Dining.
For more information email OutdoorDining@worcesterma.gov (preferred) or call 508-799-1400 x31440.
Because expanded outdoor dining areas have increased potential for impacting neighbors, it is especially important that restaurants carefully monitor and manage their Temporary Outdoor Dining areas.
Adherence to operating requirements and safety standards is an important component of the Temporary Outdoor Dining Program. To report a concern regarding the operation of a Temporary Outdoor Dining installation, please contact License Commission staff at License@worcesterma.gov.
The City of Worcester (City) has established the Outdoor Dining Grant Program to support restaurants, bars, and other food establishments on a reimbursement basis to safely expand outdoor dining options. These grant funds will assist food related businesses to enhance, expand or establish new outdoor dining options. Examples include sidewalk cafes, newly created courtyards, parklets and use of off-street parking areas.
Applications for the Outdoor Dining Grant Program closed in May, 2020.