Sidewalk Cafés

Apply for a sidewalk cafe permit

File a sidewalk cafe application with the City of Spokane, Department of Engineering Services, located on the Third Floor of City Hall, 808 West Spokane Falls Boulevard

Site plan

Include an 8-1/2x11 inch plan of the proposed sidewalk café with your application. The site plan will need to illustrate: building frontage dimensions, sidewalk dimensions, café dimensions, street tree locations (distance to café), street furniture locations (e.g. benches, newspaper boxes), size and placement of tables, loading zones, and alleys. If an enclosure is proposed, identify the type and profile of the barriers to be used to enclose the sidewalk café and any other obstructions in the area. Placement of Sidewalk Café must leave a minimum of six (6) feet of unobstructed sidewalk. In the case of tree wells adjacent to site, a minimum of four (4) feet of clearance shall be maintained from the edge of the tree grate/well.


Include a $300 (non-refundable) filing fee with your application, payable to the City of Spokane.

General requirements

The café will need to maintain table and chair seating for not less than 15 square feet per person per seat. Awnings, lighting and other construction will need to conform with applicable provisions of the Uniform Building Codes and applicable City codes. The area will need to be cleared when not in use as a sidewalk café or as required by the appropriate City official, and as may be necessary to accommodate deliveries to adjacent or other nearby properties.

Review and approval

Once a complete application is submitted, the Department of Engineering Services will review the proposal for consistency with adopted City regulations. Copies of the application and plan will then be sent to all concerned City departments. Surrounding property owners will be notified and public notices will be posted.

After receiving approval from all applicable departments, an administrative hearing will be set, at which you and the public may offer testimony on the permit application.

Insurance and liability

In order to operate an outdoor café on the public City sidewalk the café applicant will need to sign a hold harmless agreement with the City.

In addition, the applicant will need to maintain commercial general liability coverage in the amount of $500,000 and name the City as an additional insured.

Temporary permit

A sidewalk café permit, is temporary, valid for one calendar year (January 1 to January 1), and vests no permanent right. A renewal application will need to be submitted every year after the initial application and accompanied by a $250 renewal fee.

The City retains the right to revoke the permit with 30 days notice, posted on the premises, or without notice, in case the permitted use becomes dangerous or unsafe

Downtown Spokane encourages downtown business and property owners to create outdoor spaces that bring the building’s internal activities out onto the street. Businesses that do this well create vibrancy, activity, opportunities to people-watch, and financial benefit.

Well-organized and maintained outdoor seating areas increase “dwell-time”, people tend to stay longer when they are more comfortable. Patio seating opportunities are especially popular in the northwest because weather limits outside access to about half a year.

In downtown almost all patio and café seating is entirely associated with restaurants. Downtown Spokane encourages properties and businesses to provide outdoor seating as an amenity to tenants and customers, even if it’s not tied directly to a restaurant. In 2014, River Park Square added patio space at its the Main Avenue entrance, creating the first successful seating area of its type in downtown.

Setting up your outdoor patio space can cost anywhere from $500 to $10,000, depending on the materials and design.


If you are planning to serve alcohol on your patio space, the Washington State Liquor Control Board requires board approval of the alteration of your license in addition to an enclosure barrier that is a minimum of 42'' in height.

  1. The board's licensing and regulation division will make initial contact on the request for alteration within five business days.
  2. The licensee may begin liquor service in conjunction with the alteration as soon as approval is received.
  3. Board approval will be based on the alteration meeting the requirements.

Landscaping, umbrellas and fencing are also key to creating the feeling of an outdoor room. Contact the Downtown Spokane office for recommendations on preferred streetscape enhancements to your patio space or for assistance with planting. 

Emu Ronda chairs | Emu Cambi tables | Planters

For further assistance, contact Public Policy & Parking Manager, Andrew Rolwes, at