Restaurant Recovery Program


In an effort to help Miami restaurants get up and running following the COVID-19 shutdown, the City of Miami has created the Restaurant Recovery Program, which allows restaurants to temporarily add or expand outdoor seating areas while meeting social distancing requirements. To learn more about the Restaurant Recovery Program, including how to apply, please continue reading below.

Recovery Program Overview:

  • This applies to establishments whose primary use under non-emergency conditions is the preparation of food and shall have a valid City of Miami Certificate of Use for “restaurant” or “food service establishment”.
  • Authorized by City Commission Resolution R-20-0156. Available through January 31st, 2021 or as extended by City of Miami.

This program applies to the following space types:

  • Private Property  
  • Private walkways, parking and driving areas
  • Must be adjacent and with permission of the owner. 

Public Rights-of-Way (ROW) 

  • Sidewalks and nearby on-street parking
  • Roads or lanes of traffic closed by the City
  • City & County managed ROW, with limited State managed ROW (see Exhibit 1) 
  • Additional locations will be reviewed on a case by case basis. 


Frequently Asked Questions: Restaurant Recovery Program

Who can apply? 

Restaurants, but not bars serving food. 

Where does this apply? 

Outdoor space adjacent to restaurants on private property city-wide.  Outdoor space on public ROW, refer to the map for pre-approved zones.  Other spaces in public ROW will be handled on a case-by-case basis. 

Where can I get more information and apply? 

Create a User Account and apply at look for Outdoor Café – Temporary Permit on the drop-down menu. 

General information about reopening regulations can be found on the Miami-Dade County site. 

How long is an outdoor café permit good for?  

Once approved, permits are good for as long as the program is authorized. The current end date for the program is August 20, 2020, but may be extended by the City Commission. 

How long will it take for my permit to be approved?  

The City aims to issue permits within 48 hours of receipt. 

How much will an outdoor café permit cost?  

Unlike regular sidewalk café permits, there is no cost to obtain an outdoor café temporary permit. 

Who pays for barricades and road closure signs?  

Businesses must pay for and procure barricades, delineators, and other materials needed to provide a safe outdoor café in accordance with established standards. The Downtown Development Agency and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are working with local businesses to assist with the cost of procurement. Materials for closure of roads will be provided by the City of Miami.  

Can I leave tents, tables, and chairs out at night or do I need to move them indoors when not operating? 

Chairs, Tables, barricade materials and other approved items may remain on sidewalks and in parking spaces as approved by the permit, however pedestrian lanes must be preserved and any damage or losses are at risk of the restaurants. The city reserves the right to direct removal of items due to emergency situations or other conditions. 

Can I establish a waiter table or food storage station in the outdoor café? 

No.  Outdoor cafes are only authorized for extension of seating areas (tables and chairs) outdoors to provide for social distancing requirements. All other service functions should remain indoors. 

What are the hours of operation allowed on sidewalks, parklets, and in Café Zones?  

The permitted business hours of operation for indoor portions of your business should remain consistent with your business’s typical hours of operations. If you are expanding operations outdoors, outdoor seating hours end at the same time as you are currently authorized. Please be mindful of your neighbors and any additional noise that may be generated.  

What is the 50% rule? 

You may not have more than 50% occupancy indoors with the maintenance of social distancing of 6 feet between parties. Any outdoor seating must maintain similar distancing, but in no event may the combined indoor and outdoor operation exceed 100% of its legally permitted building occupancy.  

What if I don’t know my businesses’ capacity or occupancy load, how do I calculate the allowable 50%? 

If your occupancy is greater than 50 people, it will be posted on an “occupant load certificate” posted near the main exit.  Round down when dividing by half.   

If your occupancy is less than 50 use this formula to estimate, (numbers may need to be confirmed by City staff)

dining area sqft. / 15 sqft/patron= Number of patrons. 

For example: 500 sqft dining area / 15 = 33.33 patrons.  50% of 33.33= 16.66, so 16 patrons may sit INSIDE.  You may have 33 patrons seated total with indoor AND outdoor seating.

In all cases occupancy is the MAXIMUM number. Table spacing must be maintained and will limit occupancy, even if it is less than 50%. 

If you have questions regarding occupancy, contact anytime or call (305) 416-1570 between 8am and 5pm. 

How does the “6-foot rule” work for restaurant seating?  

Each table setting needs to be 6’ from other tables measured from the back of each chair, chair-to-chair, unless appropriate partitioning is in place. A per table party limit of 4 persons must be maintained whether seating is indoor or outdoor unless the members of the party are from the same household. When parties are from the same household, tables may seat up to 6 persons. Restaurants must also make reasonable accommodations to party sizes to accommodate guests with disabilities such as allowing additional seating for caretakers. If people are at a table together, they don’t need to be 6 feet apart. 

What are the requirements for patrons waiting for a table? 

Parties must wait in vehicles or outside for their tables until called by the host to be seated. Patrons should make reservations in advance whenever possible to prevent large crowds from forming at business entrance.   

Are employees and patrons required to wear masks?   

Guests must wear face covering that covers the mouth and the nose as they arrive, move to and leave their tables. Face coverings are not required while sitting at tables. Any employees approaching tables must wear a face covering.  

What are the rules for operation and restroom use? 

Who can I call if I have questions? 

For any questions or to inquire about the program, please email anytime or call (305) 416-1570 between 8am and 5pm.

Application Process:

1. Collect Documents

  • Business tax receipt 

  • Alcohol license number, (if applicable)  

  • Signed affidavit regarding compliance with applicable rules 

  • Signature of owner as co-applicant when applicable 

  • Narrative description (see below) 

  • Proof of insurance (see below) 

2. Prepare Description

Applicant shall provide a narrative description of the proposed expansion of sidewalk café seating areas onto the public rights-of-way or outdoor seating areas on private property. Narrative shall describe design concept, intended use for the space, furnishings to be included, enhancement of streetscape, and maintenance plan. 

3. Prepare Proof of General Liability Insurance  

Prior to the issuance of a permit, the Applicant shall submit to the City a certificate of insurance with respect to Commercial General Liability with limits of at least $1,000,000.00 per occurrence, $2,000,000.00 policy aggregate, and affording coverage for premises and operations liability, personal and advertising injury, products and completed operations, and liquor liability, if applicable. In addition, the applicant shall submit a certificate of insurance in terms of workers’ compensation subject to the statutory limits of the State of Florida including waiver of subrogation in favor of the City.  The City reserves the right to request umbrella liability, or any additional insurance requirements as may be warranted in connection with the operations contemplated under this permit. The certificate must reflect primary and noncontributory language with respect to general liability, and list the city and MPA as an additional insured on all third party liability policies including liquor. The insurance herein required shall remain in full force and effect at all times during the entire term of the permit, and shall afford coverage on all outdoor dining activities in the public right of way, as well as any other additional location or premises used by the Applicant in connection with this permit. Additionally, all such insurance shall be subject to review and approval by the City’s Risk Management Department.

Companies authorized to do business in the State of Florida, with the following qualifications, shall issue all insurance policies required above:

The company must be rated no less than “A-” as to management, and no less than “Class V” as to Financial Strength, by the latest edition of Best’s Insurance Guide, published by A.M. Best Company, Oldwick, New Jersey, or its equivalent. All policies and/or certificates of insurance are subject to review and verification by Risk Management prior to insurance approval. 

See sample document, below. 


4. Apply Online

You will need to complete the online application and upload the above documentation. 

Assuming your application is complete and thorough, you can expect to hear back from The City within 2-3 days. 

Apply Here

NOTE: Indemnification

For any use of the public right-of-way or of the Applicant’s parking lot or private open space permitted under this program, Applicant agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the City, the MPA, jointly and severally, and their respective officers, employees, agents and instrumentalities from any and all liability, losses or damages, including any and all attorneys' fees and costs of defense, which the city and its officers, employees, agents and instrumentalities may incur as a result of claims, demands, suits, causes of actions or proceedings of any kind or nature including, but not limited to, personal injury or wrongful death, property loss or damage, as well as those related to the conditions and features on all sidewalks and sidewalk areas, bike lanes or bike paths, streets, bay walks, Applicant’s private parking lot, Applicant’s private open space, or other areas within the City on which a sidewalk café, or any other food service establishment seating and appurtenances or other modifications to the right-of-way or Applicant’s property by this program is allowed. Applicant shall pay all claims and losses in connection therewith and shall investigate and defend all claims, suits or actions of any kind or nature in the name of the City, where applicable, including administrative, trial, and appellate proceedings, and shall pay all costs, judgments, and attorneys' fees which may issue thereon. Applicant expressly understands and agrees that any insurance protection required by this approval, or otherwise provided or secured by an applicant, shall in no way limit the responsibility to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the city, the MPA, or their officers, employees, agents and instrumentalities. The obligation to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless will survive the revocation, cancellation, or expiration of this approval. The applicant acknowledges that the grant of this approval is, in part, conditioned on the granting of this indemnification which is knowingly and voluntarily given by the applicant. 

Regulations applying to both Private and Public Space: 

1.            All indoor and outdoor seating counts toward occupant load. 

2.            The City of Miami waives all application fees.

3.            Business will be responsible for maintaining safe operation at all times.

4.            Must comply with requirements for Social Distancing.

o             Maintain 6 feet separation between seats

o             6 feet between tables and pathways

5.            Must close immediately if any employee or contractor tests positive for COVID-19.

6.            Must keep a record of reservations for contact tracing purposes.

7.            Must comply with Miami Fire Rescue fire department access rules.

8.            Must meet minimum life safety requirements. Including:

o             Keep all means of egress clear

o             Keep fire lanes and fire staging areas clear

o             Keep access to all hydrants and connection points clear

9.            Must meet minimum Americans with Disabilities Act, (ADA) requirements, including:

o             Minimum clearances and 3’ wide accessible routes

o             Ramps and slopes

10.          Must create safe separation between vehicular traffic and pedestrians and diners.

11.          Maintain access to public utilities, building, transit stops, and transient entrances

12.          Restaurants and food establishments licensed to sell and allow on-premise consumption of alcoholic beverages within expanded dining.

o             This program does not change the status of Restaurants not currently permitted to sell alcohol.  

13.          May erect tents and other shade structures

o             All tents must abide by requirements listed below under “General Requirements for use of Tents or Shade Structures”

o             Tents of 120sqft or smaller may be erected.

             Individual 120sqft tents must be separated by 6’ or more

o             Tents larger than 120sqft must comply with I.F.I.A. tent handbook requirements and will require a building permit.

14.          Businesses are responsible for activating spaces with chairs, tables, umbrellas, and barriers as needed.

15.          Business are responsible for daily upkeep, litter cleanup, and maintenance associated with operations.

16.          The permit shall be specifically limited to the subject area shown on the approved site plan.

17.          Business are responsible for removal and restoring space to previous conditions for the following reasons:

a.            The cessation of use

b.            The end of the program

c.             Violations of permit conditions listed here or other legal requirements 

d.            The cafe poses a dangerous condition or threat to life or property such as:

i.              Materials encroach into travel or bike lanes

ii.             Materials limit required site-lines or visibility

iii.            Structures become unsafe 

e.            Request by City due to a declaration of State of Emergency such as a hurricane

f.             Business create modifications unapproved by the City

18.          The Permittee must agree in writing to authorize the City to remove and restore space at the Permittee's sole cost in the event that any of the above conditions occur.

19.          Dangerous or threatening conditions must be fixed immediately. 

20.          If non-threatening violations occur, the applicant will be notified and will be given a maximum of five (5) working days to remedy the conditions. 

21.          Permits will be terminated if violations are not fixed in 5 working days.

22.          If a permit is terminated, sites must be returned to previous condition at the sole cost of the Permittee within three (3) calendar days. 

23.          When the encroachment causes a dangerous condition or threat of danger to life or property, the permit will be terminated without the five (5) day notice and removed immediately at Permittee's cost. 

24.          The City, at its sole discretion, may restore sites to their previous condition upon a finding that it is in the public interest for the City to fund or partially fund its removal. 

25.          Permits under the Program are separate from and shall not otherwise alter or amend the terms of any existing sidewalk café permits issued pursuant to Chapter 54-222, Article VI, of the City Code (the “Sidewalk Café Ordinance").

26.          Typical requirements of the Sidewalk Café Ordinance are temporarily suspended.

27.          Additional regulations may be found at:

  1. Must be immediately adjacent to the restaurant. 
  2. Up to 50% of required on-site parking spaces may be used. 
  3. No parking for disabled persons shall be repurposed.
  4. No parking or seating is permitted in required landscape and buffer areas.
  5. Any tents or structures must meet required setbacks.
  6. Temporary equipment such as wash stations and hand sanitizing stations or stations for staff set up and service do not need to meet required yard setbacks.



1. The width of sidewalk cafés are restricted to the width of the sidewalk frontage of the subject property.  The sidewalk café may extend by a maximum of fifty (50) contiguous feet in the public right-of-way on one (1) side and/or the other side of the private property with consent of the adjacent property owner so long as the property directly abuts the public right-of-way. Adjacent businesses are strongly encouraged to coordinate.

2. A clearly marked, unobstructed, and durable pedestrian right-of-way, known as the "pedestrian path", that meets required accessibility standards of no less than three (3) feet shall be maintained for each sidewalk café and adhere to the following standards:

a. The minimum distance of the path shall be measured from the portion of the sidewalk café boundary nearest either the curb line or nearest obstruction.

b. In no event may recesses in the sidewalk café/retail space boundary be used to satisfy this unobstructed width requirement for said path, except that the corners of the sidewalk café/retail space may be rounded or mitered.

c. Sidewalk cafés/retail spaces shall maintain a clearance of three (3) feet around the corners of other sidewalk cafés measured in radius.

3. The pedestrian path shall maintain a minimum of three (3) feet from large obstructions. No tables, chairs, umbrellas or other fixtures are allowed within three (3) feet of corner curb cuts or pedestrian crosswalks. For the purposes of this section, large obstructions shall be bus stop shelters, newsstands, planters or other objects greater than fifteen (15) square feet in area.

4. Access to fire hydrants, fire hose connections for sprinkler systems, and entrances/exits of buildings shall not be obstructed at any time by barriers or seating. The twenty (20) feet fire lane shall not be obstructed at any time. There shall be a minimum of forty (40) inches in distance separating the edge of a table or chair to a fire department connection.

5. No object shall be permitted around the perimeter of an area occupied by tables and chairs which would have the effect of forming a physical or visual barrier which would have the effect of obstructing the pedestrian path.

6. Operational hours of the space shall be restricted to the adjacent business operating hours.

Converted Parking Spaces

Inactive and/or underutilized on-street parking spaces may be converted into publicly accessible open space available to expand sidewalk cafes along curb line on streets where on street parking spaces exist. They can be considered in any location where there are space(s) for on-street parallel parking, including spaces with metered or unmetered parking. The City will temporarily suspend certain codes and permitting requirements for private use of on-street parking spaces within the public right-of way, for uses consistent with requirements in this guidebook. Similar to parklets, which consist of semi-permanent decks that expand the pedestrian realm beyond the sidewalk, this program allows businesses to either construct temporary parklets or utilize ramps and other means to private a safe, ADA compliant transition to the roadway level to expand sidewalk cafes. They may include amenities such as seating, planters, bike parking, art, and other associated improvements, generally located in front of and developed and operated by the adjacent business.

Sight Triangle 

Converted parking spaces must not interfere with sight triangles. A sight triangle is a triangular shaped portion of land established for unobstructed visibility of motorists entering or leaving a street or driveway intersection in which nothing, whether stationary or moveable (i.e., vehicles, vehicular maneuvering area, signs, landscaping or objects of any kind) is permitted to be located between a height of two and one-half (2 ½) and eight (8) feet above the elevation of the adjoining edge of pavement. An exception to the prohibition is a tree with trunk between two and one-half (2 ½) and eight (8) feet.  


Bolting into the street or penetrating the surface of the road in any way is strongly discouraged and is not allowed without a restoration plan and an excavation bond posted by the applicant. Bolting to existing curbs may be allowed with specific restoration requirements.   

Platform Surface 

If a platform is constructed as part of a converted parking space, the top of platform must be flush with the sidewalk with a maximum gap of one-half inch. In the case of a sloping street, staff will work with the designer to address issues of access.   


Converted parking spaces cannot impede the flow of curbside drainage. The Department of Resilience and Public Works will work with businesses to provide for stormwater drainage.    

Reflective Elements at Corners 

Reflective elements are required at the outside corners of all converted parking spaces. Soft-hit posts are a standard solution deployed at the outside edges; however, the City will consider additional reflective elements incorporated in the parklet design. Posts may be purchased from any vendor, but must meet these specifications: 

  • Safe hit type 2 guide post 36”, white 

  • Surface mount pin lock base 

  • Butyl adhesive pad or 10 oz. Epoxy Kit 

Reflective elements

City of Miami Right to Clear Right-of-Way 

The City reserves the right to remove a sidewalk café/retail space that creates an obstruction to, or causes congestion of, pedestrian or vehicular traffic due to existing conditions on the surrounding public right-of-way if it finds the installation represents a danger to the health, safety or general welfare of the public or a business violates the requirements of these Guidelines or Executive Orders. The City may require the removal, temporary or permanent, of the sidewalk café/retail space when redevelopment of the street or sidewalk, or utility repairs necessitates such action, or the permittee fails to comply with the criteria set forth in the Code of Ordinances. Any costs incurred by the City for removal or storage of sidewalk café tables, chairs and other equipment shall be the responsibility of the business. The city is not responsible for any damages or loss of equipment removed pursuant to this subsection. 


Your "outdoor cafe temporary permit" includes the following allowances and regulations: 

1. Appropriate lighting of the sidewalk café is required if operating outside of daytime hours. Reliance on existing street and building lighting is encouraged.  If additional lighting is needed, no cords or materials may interfere with circulation. 

2. Use of landscaping and planters is permissible, however these materials should not be permanently affixed to any public rights-of-way and should only be used to augment, not replace, any barricade materials.

3. Signs are prohibited on umbrellas, chairs, tables and other permissible fixtures which are located on the public Right-of-Way, except that the establishment identified on the permit and/or its logo shall be permitted on umbrellas, planters, and barricades.

4. Use of removable barriers to define the sidewalk café is permissible.

5. Overhead elements that span the sidewalk and connect the café area to an adjacent building facade are discouraged. Proposals may be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require a minimum vertical clearance of eighty-four inches above grade.  

The City may temporarily close selected portions of an entire street through a restriction of vehicular traffic to provide a zone with additional pedestrian space in a safe and protected setting. These zones will provide the maximum additional space to serve businesses and communities in a concentrated area on either a full time or part time schedule.  In the interest of public safety, full street closure locations and hours of operation must be approved and emplaced by the City of Miami in advance. The City will prepare a Maintenance of Traffic plan to close the roadway for vehicles and deploy necessary detours and signs to direct traffic away from the closure. It is the responsibility of the business to activate these spaces with temporary materials such as tables and chairs, umbrellas, and visual/physical barrier materials. 

The following requirements apply to use of tents or shade structures: 

  • Umbrellas and other decorative material shall be fire-retardant, pressure-treated or manufactured of fire-resistant material.  

  • No portion of an umbrella shall be less than six (6) feet, eight (8) inches (eighty (80) inches) above the sidewalk.  

  • The maximum size tents that may be placed within sidewalks and parking spaces will be 120 sqft. 

  • No staking of tents is permitted in public Rights-of-Way. 

  • All tent legs must be weighted with a minimum of 40lbs. 

  • Weights must be securely attached to canopy roof and canopy leg separately. 

  • Ropes and straps should be high quality; bungee or rubber straps are prohibited. 

  • Weights must be on the ground and not dangling. 

  • Weights and lines must not pose a hazard and be clearly visible. 

  • For maximum safety, tents should be secured as soon as they are put up and brought down as soon as weight is removed. Do not leave unsecured tents at any time. 

  • Heaters of any kind shall not be used under tents or umbrellas. 

  • Smoking is prohibited under tents and shade structures. 

  • Tents must not have closed walls in place while open to the public, and all sides should be open for air flow. 

Items that make acceptable weights: 

  • 5 gallon bucket full of water, sand, or concrete 

  • 4” PVC pipe at least 36” long filled with concrete 

  • Large commercially available tent weights 

  • Sandbags or salt bags 40 lbs or heavier 


This map outlines where The City has pre-approved areas for right-of-way expansion. All other applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

City Streets Recovery