District Department of Transportation

DC Streatery Frequently Asked Questions


I have a sidewalk café permit. When can I begin operating? 

Beginning Friday, May 29, 2020, every business with a current valid sidewalk café permit can operate in compliance with public health and safety requirements. Information on those requirements can be found here.  Enclosed sidewalk cafes must always have their enclosing materials removed and operate as an unenclosed café. 

Businesses that want to expand café to include sidewalk space in front of an adjacent property must complete an online registration form to begin operating in that space. The restaurant must secure written permission from the adjacent property owner and have a current Certificate of Insurance. See the next section for more details. 

I want to expand my café or provide new seating. How do I do this? 

Complete this simple online form and then begin operating sidewalk café  in compliance with public health and safety requirements.  Information on those requirements can be found here. Restaurant owners have five (5) business days from submitting the registration to complete a public space permit for a temporary sidewalk table service. Applications for this permit can be submitted at tops.ddot.dc.gov

How can I use the curbside to provide table service? 

Curbside table service by a restaurant is called a parklet. To operate a parklet, a restaurant must register using this simple online form and then submit a parklet permit application at tops.ddot.dc.gov.  Restaurants may not begin operating a parklet until DDOT issues an approved permit.   

Can I have a pick-up space and a parklet on a street? 

Yes. A restaurant must have the appropriate amount of space to accommodate a pick up and drop off zone (three parking spaces) and parklet in front of the eatery. Restaurants must also acquire written support from adjoining businesses.  

Will parklets require a raised platform to level with the sidewalk? 

No. These temporary parklets or Streateries will not be required to have a platform but will need to provide a moveable Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant ramp to the seating area from the sidewalk.  


How can I use the entire curb along the block or use the travel lanes or alleys? 

Only Business Improvement Districts, Community Improvement Districts, Main Streets and other community organizations can submit a request to use the entire curb along the block. 

How do I get a permit for this? 

First, complete this simple online form and then submit a permit application for Other Special Event via tops.ddot.dc.gov.   

How long will it take to get a permit? 

DDOT expects to issue permits within two to seven days of receiving an application. Permits for cafes in the curb lane require more review and coordination due to the impacts on the roadway and transportation networks as well as mass transit and public safety considerations.  For more information on this process please contact Anna Chamberlin at [email protected]


How do I safely seat customers? 

The number of seats allowed within a Streatery is determined by dividing the total square feet of the Streatery by 15. For example, a standard Streatery for one parking space measures six (6) by 12 feet, or 72 square feet (6 x 12 = 72). The maximum seating capacity for the area would be five (72 / 15 = 4.8 or 5 seats). Customers cannot be seated within 4 feet of the perimeter of the café. 

How do I keep employees and customers safe? 

 DC Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended the following safeguards to protect employees and customers: 

  • Immediately seat patrons. Do not allow patrons to queue on the sidewalk while waiting to be seated.   
  • Implement the following sanitation safeguards: 
    • Continually sterilize tables, chairs, plates/utensils, etc. in between customers and at least every 2 hours 
    • Use only non-reusable menus 
    • Provide customers and employees access to hand washing stations and hand sanitizer 
    • Ensure all restrooms are cleaned and sanitized throughout hours of operation. 


Do I need a public space permit? 

Restaurants that  have a valid sidewalk café permit and are not using any additional space do not need an additional public space permit. Restaurants that want to expand their sidewalk café space should apply for a public space permit via tops.ddot.dc.gov. Complete this simple online form and then begin providing service on the sidewalk. After completing the registration form, restaurants have five (5) business days to submit an application for a temporary sidewalk table service permit via tops.ddot.dc.gov

How long will a TOPS review take? 

DDOT is implementing an expedited review process to support the Phase 1 reopening.  Permit application reviews will be completed within 2-5 business days of receipt. 

Which type of permits will the ANC review? 

Given that these uses of public space are temporary, ANC review will not be required, except for Streateries requiring full roadway closures. 

How long are the permits valid? 

All permits for outdoor seating and pick-up/drop-off are set to expire at the end of the current declared public health emergency. All permits are subject to renewal. 


I have a non-essential retail business and want to reopen.  How can I do so? 

Non-essential retailers are allowed to open for outdoor pickup by customers or delivery of items ordered online or over the phone.  Indoor shopping and indoor pickup is prohibited at non-essential retail businesses. Before opening please complete this simple online form

How can I use public space to provide for customer pickup of preordered items? 

Retailers may use up to 4 feet from the face of their building to stage products for customer pickup. Retailers must adhere to safe social distancing and proper sanitizing protocols. Contact DC Health for more information. 

Can I use the curbside for customers to drive up to pick up items? 

Yes.  Retailers can reserve up to three (3) curbside spaces to provide a temporary pickup zone under an approved public space permit.  All retailers must have a public space permit before providing curbside pickup.  A permit application for Other Reserved Parking may be submitted at tops.ddot.dc.gov

Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration 

For a complete set of FAQs related to alcoholic beverage service please visit ABRA’s website at https://abra.dc.gov/node/1479666

Can licensees expand their licensed sidewalk cafes or summer gardens? 

Yes, but all licensees must first register and receive approval. Licensees seeking to expand onto private property must also complete the same registration form but will be prompted to bypass non-applicable questions. DDOT approval is not required for outdoor seating on private property.  

Can licensees share outdoor dining space? 


Is a licensee’s expanded outdoor dining space subject to provisions included in an existing Settlement Agreement? 


Is a licensee’s existing sidewalk café or summer garden on its license subject to provisions in an existing Settlement Agreement? 

Yes. The parties to a Settlement Agreement that address currently licensed outdoor dining can petition the ABC Board to waive specific provisions for up to 180 days. 

DC Health 

For health and safety requirements regarding restaurants please visit Phase 1 Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19): Guidance for Restaurants.

Do I need permission from DC Health before I begin operating? 

No. Non-essential businesses do not need prior approval from DC Health to begin operations. Non-essential business must register online for new and expanding use of public space.  and adhere to the DC Health guidelines for food service operations. All restaurant owners must attend a DC Health webinar within two weeks of beginning operations.  Email [email protected] for more information.