• Outdoor Dining

    Header Image
    Outdoor Dining in Bellevue. Radford Creative, Courtesy of 520 Bar & Grill

    The 2022 Al Fresco on-street dining program on Main Street and at other participating restaurants throughout the city launched on May 24. Learn more here.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Bellevue supported local businesses by providing additional outdoor space for restaurants and retailers to accommodate social distancing. Based on overwhelming positive feedback (see survey results), including from many residents who expressed a desire to see "al fresco" options persist beyond the emergency as a permanent fixture, the city is committed to providing long-term support to restaurants offering outdoor dining.

    We are also working with our partners at the Bellevue Downtown Association (BDA) and the Old Bellevue Merchants' Association (OBMA) to support marketing for the outdoor spaces and expand use of public right-of-way for activation, placemaking, and events. 

    Permitting Process

    In order to assure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, fire code, and building regulations, permits are generally required for patio dining. The type of permit depends on the type of space under consideration. Learn more about the different permit types and the requirements for each below.

    Once you are ready to apply, you can start your application at mybuildingpermit.com.

    Sidewalk Café Basics

    Outdoor dining spaces on the sidewalk are generally located on City right-of-way and require a Street Use Permit. A detailed plan review from our Transportation team ensures compliance with the ADA, stormwater, fire, and other requirements.

    1. Use this checklist to gather your documents. Applications with missing documents will not be reviewed.
    2. Apply for your permit directly at mybuildingpermit.com

    Helpful Resources

    On-Street Dining Basics

    Outdoor dining spaces on the street or in the parking lane are allowed in certain areas of downtown Bellevue, including on Main Street. Because these spaces are located on City right-of-way, they require a Street Use Permit. Eligibility is not guaranteed, but depends on a number of factors, such as the type of street, parking availability, and sight lines.

    1. To get started, first reach out to City staff to confirm your eligibility. Our Transportation team will confirm that your proposed space can be considered for on-street dining.
    2. Use this checklist to gather your documents. Applications with missing documents will not be reviewed.
    3. Apply for your permit directly at mybuildingpermit.com.

    In addition, permits for On-Street Dining require a valid Sidewalk Café permit, as the on-street space is considered an extension to your sidewalk café area. However, these permits may be reviewed concurrently.

    Helpful Resources

    Please note: If you held a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) due to the pandemic, your TUP has now expired. Please reach out to City staff to explore your options. You may be eligible for a permit allowing permanent use of your patio space on private property.

    Private Property Dining Basics

    If the property was originally permitted as a patio space, no additional permit is required.

    If the property was originally permitted as a different use (such as a parking lot), then a restaurant may apply for a Temporary Use Permit to reallocate space for a limited time. In general, such a permit will be valid for up to 90 days after the end of the COVID-19 civil emergency order. A detailed plan review from our Land Use team ensures compliance with the ADA, stormwater, fire, and other requirements.

    These permits require the following for issuance:

    Full guidelines are available here. More information is available from our Land Use team.

    Marketing and Financial Resources

    Deciding whether to offer outdoor dining is an important decision for your business, and it goes beyond the permitting process. In order to assist in your decisionmaking and ensure your outdoor dining installation is successful, the city has developed partnerships to provide additional assistance. Learn more below.

    The city's Cultural and Economic Development team has partnered with the Bellevue Downtown Association to provide marketing assistance to restaurants offering outdoor dining which are located downtown.

    The Heart of Bellevue program is designed to connect and promote local businesses while building vibrancy in downtown Bellevue. Over the coming year, the BDA will be sharing stories of activity, creativity, and vitality back to our urban core. Additionally, they will be promoting outdoor dining prominently on their website, newsletters, social media channels, and via banner stands and posters across the city.

    It's easy and free to participate. Just reach out to the Bellevue Downtown Association to learn more and get started.

    Outdoor dining can be an important revenue driver for local restaurants, but it may also create additional costs. Some restaurants may need advice in order to make outdoor dining work financially. We are ready to help.

    We have contracted with Business Impact Northwest to provide free, one-on-one financial advising to small businesses, including restaurants. Our advisor is a former restaurant owner and consultant, and can assist in identifying financial resources, looking at your books, and applying for federal or state grants or loans. He can also assist in considering layout, staffing, and cost models for outdoor dining. Best of all, his services are completely free.

    You can reach out to our advisor here.


    Anthony Gill
    Economic Development Specialist