Temporary Regulatory Relief for Restaurants

Outdoor Dining on Private Property

On June 24, 2021, Louisville Metro Council extended the suspension certain planning and zoning requirements to allow:

  • Restaurants to setup or expand outdoor seating on private property or in a parking lot without additional parking, landscaping or other requirements normally required
  • Restaurants that are in compliance with the Land Development Code and that already have a liquor license to serve alcohol outdoors from their existing indoor bar

Restaurant owners and/or representatives should read the Guidelines for Temporarily Expanding Outdoor Seating for Restaurants and the ordinance passed by Metro Council.

Fill out the below form with details of how they plan to expand dining outdoors. Restaurants are NOT required to receive a permit or approval for outdoor seating on private property from Louisville Metro Government. Louisville Metro Planning and Design Services will review submissions and contact restaurants ONLY if there are concerns or issues with the plan.



Sidewalk/Right of Way Dining

On May 12, 2020, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced that the Department of Public Works will temporarily suspend application fees for restaurants seeking an encroachment permit to add or expand their outdoor seating on public property, including sidewalks. Public Works will continue to waive encroachment permit fees through the end of 2021.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Restaurants still need to apply for a permit online. To obtain a permit, the business will need to provide proof of insurance. You cannot have seating in the public right of way without a permit.

Here are step-by-step directions for how to apply for an encroachment permit through Accela. If you have questions about the permit, please call Public Works at (502) 574-5810.


Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Annual License Fee Renewal Waivers

In December 2020, Louisville Metro’s Department of Codes and Regulations issued an updated order waiving 100 percent of the annual ABC license renewal fees for restaurants, bars, breweries and other businesses with on-site, by-the-drink consumption. The order will not apply to packaged alcohol licenses.

This waiver is in addition to the previously announced waiver of its annual renewal fees for extended hour licenses.

Licensees who have not paid renewal fees for 2020 will not be required to pay renewal fees until 2021. Businesses that have already renewed their annual license will not have to pay renewal fees in 2021, and those that paid the 25 percent reduced renewal fee in October or November following the initial order will receive a 75 percent reduction on their renewal fee in 2021. No refunds will be issued.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Licensees must still file paperwork to renew their annual license and extended hour license.


Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Information for Outdoor Dining

Restaurants wishing to sell alcohol outdoors on property that they do not currently own or lease will need to submit a material change letter to local and state ABC authorities, along with documentation such as a copy of a lease or a letter of approval giving the restaurant permission to use the space. In the case of sidewalk seating, a restaurant would need an approved encroachment permit from Public Works.

If restaurant owners want to add a supplemental bar, they will need to submit an ABC application to local and state ABC authorities to add a supplemental bar to their license.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Louisville Metro ABC at (502) 574- 3121 or fill out the contact form for the state ABC.


Tents/Canopies for Outdoor Dining

Restaurants may opt to erect canopies to provide coverage for outdoor diners. A “Canopy” is a type of tent that has no side walls or flaps; it is totally open on all sides. In order to maintain proper air flow and circulation, the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness has determined that tents with sidewalls or flaps are NOT ALLOWED for these Temporary Outdoor Seating projects.

Seating in Canopies shall follow 6-foot social distancing guidelines between all occupants and limit customer movement through the tent area.

Per the KY Building Code, any Canopy 700 square feet or larger in area requires a Tent Permit. The KY Building Code has several requirements including: minimum distances to property lines; combustible materials such as hay, straw or like materials are not permitted under the canopy; smoking is not permitted under the canopy; open or exposed flames and outdoor cooking equipment must not be located within 20 feet of the canopy; and portable fire extinguishers are required.

Tent Permits are issued by the Louisville Metro Department of Codes & Regulations. During this temporary relief period, Tent Permit fees are waived. For more information, including the application form, please visit the Construction Review website here: https://louisvilleky.gov/government/construction-review/tent-permits or call Construction Review at (502) 574-3321.

How else can we help your restaurant succeed during a limited reopening?

Louisville Metro is seeking additional innovative ideas about where restaurant owners can place new seating that is not addressed above, such as another public space, roadway parking spaces adjacent to the restaurant, or closing nearby street lanes or roadways. Please share ideas and concerns here. This is NOT a permit application.

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