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Syracuse lays out rules for winter outdoor dining

By Eric Reinhardt (


Outdoor dining during the summer months attracts customers to Armory Square restaurants. With the weather getting colder, the City of Syracuse on Nov. 15 released an updated guide for winter outdoor dining at the city’s restaurant and bars. (ERIC REINHARDT / CNYBJ)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The City of Syracuse has recently issued some requirements for restaurants and bars to “safely and comfortably” serve customers outdoors during the winter months.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh on Nov. 15 announced the release of an updated winter-dining guide.

The city is extending the season for outdoor café seating and allowing the placement of outdoor vestibules and enclosures through the winter.

“Syracuse has proven we are a city that embraces winter. When business and government work together, we can make it possible for people to enjoy outdoor dining all year long,” Walsh said. “Our updated guidelines allow restaurants and bars citywide to use the public right-of-way creatively to serve more customers.” 

Winter outdoor dining became a thing in Syracuse last winter as the city and restaurant owners sought to boost business amid the pandemic.

The city developed the updated winter-dining guidelines and updates handbook in a partnership with city’s central permit office, Department of Public Works (DPW), and Department of Neighborhood and Business Development in consultation with local businesses. 

The rules also include Syracuse Fire Department requirements for portable outdoor gas-fired heating appliances (patio heaters). All café seating, parklets, or enclosure items require permits and proper documentation on file with DPW and the Central Permit Office, Walsh’s office noted. 

About the guidelines

The new rules stipulate that restaurants and bars with approved outdoor sidewalk café permits can continue to offer outdoor café seating on sidewalks and the public right-of-way until further notice. 

Businesses are also responsible for clearing all snow from their sidewalks around café seating and ensuring that pedestrians have a minimum six feet path clear of snow and ice “at all times that café-seating materials are set on the sidewalk.” 

The guidelines also allow businesses to continue the use of parklets — the outdoor seating areas in parking spaces outside establishments. DPW will request businesses remove and store the parklets for the season prior to the first major snow event. 

To enable more outdoor seating, the rules allow the placement of temporary outdoor vestibules — membrane structures (domes or other) — and awnings installed no earlier than Oct. 15 and removed by March 31 the following spring. 

Proper sidewalk space is required around the enclosures and snow clearance must be completed at all times. DPW must review all plans and drawings.

Businesses need to obtain proper approvals from the city and must contact the central permit office at (315) 448-8600 to continue the use of café seating and parklets and to add outdoor enclosures in the right-of-way. 

Complete guidelines are available online at the City of Syracuse website.   

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