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Temporary Outdoor Dining Program

Restaurant Tables Setup Outdoors Near Sidewalk

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.

To Apply

  • 2020 License Holders do not need to reapply. Licenses have been extended for the 2021 season.
  • Existing Temporary Outdoor License Holders who wish to expand, extend or relocate their installations should submit an updated application; Commission staff will then advise whether the changes may be approved administratively or be scheduled for an upcoming License Commission meeting.

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.

Program Guidance

For more information email OutdoorDining@worcesterma.gov (preferred) or call 508-799-1400 x31440.

Good Neighbor Practices

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.

  • Provide parking and rideshare information for customers on websites and social media.
  • Consider valet service or leasing nearby parking if necessary.
  • Be mindful of noise and how it may impact neighbors (especially residences).
  • Site outdoor dining areas in locations that screened or otherwise located in a manner to minimize nuisance to neighboring residential uses.
  • Maintain outdoor dining areas in a clean and tidy manner.
  • Sidewalk dining must not block pedestrian routes; maintain a 5-foot or wider unobstructed path for pedestrians.
  • Follow all safety protocols to keep customers and employees safe.

Report a Concern

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.

  • Describe the location, date/time and nature of the compliant.
  • Provide your name and contact info (optional, but recommended).

Outdoor Dining Grant Program

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.

Learn More

Contact Information

Planning & Regulatory Services
City Hall Room 404
455 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01608

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Phone: 508-799-1400
Fax: 508-799-1406
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508-929-1300
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