Chicago’s Expanded Outdoor Dining Program for Bars & Breweries

Chicago’s Expanded Outdoor Dining Program for Bars & Breweries
August 5, 2020 Levi Olmstead

When facing the many challenges of reopening restaurants, bars, and breweries, Chicago introduced a new permit program – the Expanded Outdoor Dining Program – to help restaurants reopen safely. However, the program was built around restaurants, with many tavern and brewery owners feeling forgotten and left behind.

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt certain parts of economy, the city has made a few adjustments to the program to make it more inclusive of the city’s diverse drinking and hangout spots.

What Is Chicago’s Expanded Outdoor Dining Program?

Chicago’s Expanded Outdoor Dining Program allows restaurants to apply for a permit that gives them permission to operate on public property such as the sidewalk, streets, and parking lots during COVID-19 to help reopen while also abiding by social distancing guidelines.

One of the critiques of the program is it required businesses applying for the permit to have an onsite kitchen and food license. This left out many bars and breweries who don’t offer a food menu, forcing them to keep their businesses shut down longer than traditional restaurants and brewpubs.

Now as the city begins to restrict certain business types from opening, drinking places such as bars and breweries without a kitchen and food menu were again forced to close. With many bars and breweries already struggling to keep their doors open, closing again could mean closing for the final time.

However this week, Chicago announced a new tweak to the program to help keep bars and breweries without a kitchen or an adequate outdoor seating area open and serving customers.

Updates to the Expanded Outdoor Dining Program for Bars & Breweries

Chicago’s new Expanded Outdoor Dining Program rules allow for bars, taverns, and breweries that do not have an onsite kitchen to partner with a local restaurant to meet the food requirement of the program.

This means that bars and breweries can reopen and continue to serve customers with expanded outdoor seating – with a local restaurant preparing the food menu in its own kitchen, and is then served to the customers of those bars and breweries who obtained the permit.

2ndKitchen powers partnerships between drinking spots & restaurants – allowing Chicago bars & breweries to remain open during COVID-19.

How to Qualify & Obtain an Expanded Outdoor Dining Permit for Bars & Breweries

For bars and breweries without a food license or onsite kitchen, applying for the new program might seem like a challenge. However, it’s quite simple.

1. Meet the On-Site Food Requirement with 2ndKitchen

The first requirement to obtain the new permit for expanded outdoor seating is to meet the onsite food requirement. This requires drinking spots without a kitchen to serve food from a local restaurant.

2ndKitchen provides a free service to help power partnerships for bars & breweries with local restaurants – allowing these drinking spots to serve a full food menu, prepared in the kitchen of that local restaurant.

With 2ndKitchen, breweries are able to:

  • Meet the restaurant-pairing requirement for the Expanded Outdoor Dining Permit
  • Offer customers a fully customized food menu
  • Offer a completely contactless ordering experience, with customers ordering via their smartphones from an online menu.
  • Focus on beer production while 2ndKitchen manages the partnership, delivery, customer service, tech issues, and everything else.

Above: Example of The Lodge in Chicago promoting its new food menu on its outdoor seating – powered by 2ndKitchen’s contactless food ordering service.

Meet the food requirement of Chicago’s Expanded Outdoor Seating Program with 2ndKitchen

2. Create a City of Chicago Login Account

Next, you’ll need to create a username and password for your City of Chicago account. This will let you apply for and monitor the status of your permit.

3. Begin Application on the City of Chicago's Special Events Permit Portal

Once you’ve met the food requirement needed to obtain the permit, the next step is to begin the application process.

You can find the portal to apply on the City of Chicago’s special permits portal here.

You are looking for the “Permit” button on the top-left of the screen – seen below:


Next, hit the “Apply for New Permit” button on the main permit page.


You’re looking for the Expanded Outdoor Dining / Make Way for People permit application – click this application to get started.

Expanded Outdoor Dining covid19 permit

In order to meet the requirements of the program, your bar or brewery will need to meet a few basic guidelines.

  • Your establishment only allows for outdoor dining & drinking
  • Seating is capped at 6 people per party
  • Food and/or drinks are prepared inside the licensed establishments
  • Social distancing of 6 ft between customers is enforced
  • All other health guidelines set by local & federal public health officials are followed

4. Submit Your Business Contact Information & Operation Hours

Next, you’ll be asked to submit basic contact information for your business including your location, business name, emergency contact information, operation hours, etc.


5. Upload & Submit Legal & Other Required Documents

Finally, you’ll be asked to submit additional documentation and strategies on your business and how it is operating safely during COVID-19.

Those documents include:

  • Floor Plan
  • Security Plan
  • Emergency Action Plan
  • Certificate of Liability Insurance
  • Waste Management Plan
  • Liquor License
  • Cleaning & Disinfection Plan
  • Letters of Support
  • Location Map
  • Certificate of Good Standing
  • Economic Disclosure Statement

6. Finish Application & Monitor the Status of Your Bar or Brewery's Permit

That’s it! Hit submit and you can monitor the status of your Expanded Outdoor Seating permit with your City of Chicago account you created at the beginning of the application process.


Meet Chicago’s Requirements to Reopen Bars & Breweries with 2ndKitchen

With 2ndKitchen, bars & breweries without an onsite kitchen are able to bypass the city’s food requirement by parterning with a local restaurant. The best part? It’s 100% free!