Guidelines for Downtown Sidewalk Café Application

Sidewalk Cafe permits (s. 13.12.062) are available for restaurants in Downtown Eau Claire & Water Street to expand their seating outdoors during summer months. 

Please read the information below for a quick reference regarding eligibility and the information required for submission. 

Sidewalk café: The expansion of a full-service restaurant to create an outdoor dining area on the public right of way immediately adjacent to the premise
  • Full-service restaurants are eligible, this means an establishment that has a restaurant license under chapter 8.16 of the city code, with food sales accounting for more than 50% of gross receipts.
  • Immediately adjacent — this is the area in front of the establishment extending laterally to the property lines.
    • A restaurant may request to extend the café setup beyond the immediate front of the property by 100 feet in either lateral direction. The applicant must provide written permission signed by the owner and any tenants of the building in front of which the sidewalk café is proposed to extend.
Downtown: For the purpose of this ordinance, downtown is defined as qualifying properties lying within the area bounded on the north by Cameron Street and William Street as extended to the Chippewa River, on the east by Dewey Street, on the south by Lake Street, and on the west by Fifth Avenue/Fulton Street/Whipple Street. The permitted area includes sidewalk located on both sides of a described boundary street.
  • Water Street —  defined as the qualifying properties lying within the area bounded on the north by Chippewa Street, on the east by Second Avenue, on the south by the Chippewa River, and on the west by Ninth Avenue. The permitted area includes sidewalk located on both sides of a described boundary street.

You will need to provide:

Application: Applications are submitted to the Engineering and Licensing Departments for review and approval.  Be advised that if you have any outstanding payments due to the City your application will be held until those are paid.
  • Copy of a valid restaurant license; please provide even if one is already on file with the City.
  • Copy of a current certificate of insurance; you may need to request from your insurance provider; please provide even if one is already on file with the City,  (Commercial liability insurance in the amount of at least $1,000,000 per occurrence for bodily injury and property damage, with the city of Eau Claire named as an additional insured, shall show that the coverage extends to the area used for the sidewalk cafe.)
  • A scale drawing of the layout of the sidewalk area proposed for the café space. Drawing must include dimensions of the area, size, and layout of the tables, chairs, and location of doorways, trees, benches, and any other existing amenities or obstructions. (Sidewalk café area must show and maintain for a minimum of 4 feet of unobstructed pedestrian pathway and account for 6 feet of social distancing between tables.)
  • Photographs, drawings, or manufacturer’s brochures fully describing the appearance and dimensions of all proposed tables, chairs, umbrellas, and other objects related to the sidewalk café.
  • A non-refundable application fee, as stated in the Fees and Licensing schedule.
  • Completed City application form (includes Hold Harmless Agreement).
Alcohol Service: The ordinance does allow for alcohol service within the street café area under certain conditions. Read the full ordinance regarding alcohol licensing and service for more details. Ultimately, any alcohol application will go to City Council for approval or denial.

  • Attach an operational and security plan that explains how alcohol consumption will be monitored. Provide specific details on how you intend to control consumption outside of the licensed premise and how you will prevent underage alcohol consumption.
  • Site plan must be drawn to scale (example: 1 inch = 10 feet). Show dimensions of:

    • Size of the area occupied by the sidewalk cafe
    • Distance from structures on the premises and adjoining parcels
    • Set-back of removable barrier and proposed sidewalk cafe from property lines, streets, sidewalks, etc.
    • Show emergency exits
    • Show exit from bar to fenced outdoor area.
Access the Online Application Here


Feel free to contact us via email ( or call Aaron White, DECI Executive Director at 715-839-4914