Temporary Regulatory Relief for Restaurants


SCORE Checklist: Reopening Your Restaurant After the Coronavirus Shutdown

As Kentucky restaurants begin to reopen on May 22, 2020, and because of limited allowable indoor seating capacity, Louisville Metro wants to help restaurant owners find solutions to increase their outdoor seating capacity.

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.

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) 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.

Outdoor Dining on Private Property

Louisville Forward worked with Louisville Metro Council to pass an emergency ordinance on May 15, 2020, to suspend 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/respresentatives 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.


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.