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  • Charlene Stark

The ultimate guide to BACP sidewalk café permits in Chicago



If you're a business owner in Chicago looking to expand your operations onto the sidewalk, you'll need to obtain a sidewalk café permit from the City's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP). In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about the BACP sidewalk café permit process in Chicago, including how to apply, what fees are involved, and any requirements or restrictions you'll need to follow. We'll also provide tips and best practices for successfully obtaining a permit and highlight the benefits of having a BACP sidewalk café permit. Plus, we'll delve into the history of the program and share success stories from businesses that have thrived with a sidewalk café permit.

But first, let's address some common questions and concerns that businesses may have about the BACP sidewalk café permit process in Chicago.


"Frequently asked questions about BACP sidewalk café permits in Chicago"

  • Who is eligible for a BACP sidewalk café permit in Chicago? Any business with a valid City of Chicago business license and a physical storefront within the City limits is eligible to apply for a BACP sidewalk café permit.

  • How long does the permit process take? The permit process can take anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of your application and the availability of City resources. It's a good idea to start the process as early as possible to ensure that you have your permit in place in time for the busy summer season.

  • How much does a BACP sidewalk café permit cost? The cost of a BACP sidewalk café permit varies depending on the size and location of your business. Permit fees start at $100 for businesses with less than 25 seats and go up to $500 for businesses with more than 50 seats.

  • Are there any requirements or restrictions that I need to follow with my sidewalk café? Yes, there are several requirements and restrictions that businesses must follow with a BACP sidewalk café permit. These include maintaining a minimum clear width of at least 6 feet on the sidewalk at all times, not obstructing pedestrian or vehicle traffic, and adhering to all City ordinances and regulations. You can find a full list of requirements and restrictions on the BACP website.

  • Can I use a permit expediter to help with the permit process? Yes, you can hire a permit expediter to help navigate the permit process and ensure that your application is complete and accurate. A permit expediter can also help to expedite the process by working with the City to gather the necessary documents and information and submitting your application on your behalf.

Now that we've addressed some common questions, let's take a look at the benefits of having a BACP sidewalk café permit in Chicago.


"The benefits of having a BACP sidewalk café permit in Chicago"

  • Increased foot traffic and revenue: A sidewalk café permit can help to attract more customers to your business, especially during the busy summer months when people are looking to dine outdoors. With more customers, you can expect to see an increase in revenue as well.

  • Improved customer experience: A sidewalk café permit allows you to create a unique outdoor dining space for your customers, which can enhance their overall experience at your business. Whether it's a cozy patio or a bustling sidewalk café, an outdoor dining area can add character and appeal to your business.

  • Opportunity to stand out: With a sidewalk café permit, you can differentiate your business from others by offering an outdoor dining option that others may not have.

The history of BACP sidewalk café permits in Chicago"

The BACP sidewalk café permit program has a long history in Chicago, dating back to the 1980s. In the early years of the program, sidewalk cafés were seen as a way to revitalize the city's downtown area and attract more visitors and businesses. Since then, the program has evolved and expanded to include more businesses and locations throughout the city.

In recent years, the BACP sidewalk café permit program has faced challenges such as increased competition for outdoor dining space and concerns about the impact on pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Despite these challenges, the program has remained popular and continues to be a valuable resource for businesses looking to expand their operations onto the sidewalk.

"Success stories: businesses that have thrived with a BACP sidewalk café permit in Chicago"

There are countless businesses in Chicago that have thrived with a BACP sidewalk café permit. Here are just a few examples:

  • Café Descartes: This popular café in the Loop has been serving coffee and pastries to its customers for over 30 years. In the summer months, Café Descartes transforms its sidewalk into a bustling outdoor café, complete with tables, chairs, and umbrella-covered seating. According to owner John Ruhaak, the sidewalk café has helped to increase foot traffic and revenue for the business.

  • La Scarola: This Italian restaurant in West Town has been a popular destination for outdoor dining for over 20 years. With its BACP sidewalk café permit, La Scarola is able to set up tables and chairs on the sidewalk, creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere for its customers.

  • The Benton House: This café and community center in Bridgeport has utilized its BACP sidewalk café permit to create a welcoming outdoor space for its customers and neighbors. The Benton House's sidewalk café features tables, chairs, and plants, creating a relaxing and inviting atmosphere.

As you can see, a BACP sidewalk café permit can be a valuable resource for businesses in Chicago looking to expand their operations onto the sidewalk. Whether you're a café, restaurant, or other type of business, a sidewalk café permit can help to attract more customers, enhance the customer experience, and differentiate your business from others.

We hope this guide has provided helpful information on the BACP sidewalk café permit process in Chicago. If you have any additional questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to the BACP or a permit expediter for assistance. With the right resources and planning, you can successfully obtain a BACP sidewalk café permit and take your business to the next level.


BACP sidewalk café permits and accessibility: what you need to know:

As businesses in Chicago expand their operations onto the sidewalk with BACP sidewalk café permits, it's important to consider the accessibility of these outdoor dining spaces for people with disabilities. There are many ways that businesses can make their sidewalk cafés accessible and welcoming to all customers.

According to the City of Chicago's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), businesses with BACP sidewalk cafés are required to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Chicago Building Code. This includes providing a minimum clear width of at least 36 inches on the sidewalk at all times and ensuring that tables and chairs are arranged in a manner that does not obstruct pedestrian or wheelchair access.

In addition to these requirements, businesses with BACP sidewalk cafés can also consider other ways to make their outdoor dining spaces more accessible, such as:

  • Installing wheelchair ramps or other forms of accessible entrances

  • Providing seating options that are accessible to people with disabilities, such as tables with lowered surfaces or chairs with armrests

  • Training staff on disability etiquette and how to assist customers with disabilities

Overall, accessibility is an important consideration for businesses with BACP sidewalk cafés in Chicago. By making their outdoor dining spaces accessible and welcoming to all customers, businesses can create a positive and inclusive environment for everyone.

In conclusion, obtaining a BACP sidewalk café permit can be a valuable opportunity for businesses in Chicago looking to expand their operations onto the sidewalk. With the right resources and planning, businesses can successfully navigate the permit process and take advantage of the many benefits that a sidewalk café permit offers. Whether it's increased foot traffic and revenue, an improved customer experience, or the opportunity to stand out from the competition, a BACP sidewalk café permit can be a valuable asset for businesses of all types and sizes. If you're considering applying for a permit, be sure to research the requirements and restrictions carefully, and consider working with a permit expediter to streamline the process. With the right support and planning, you can successfully obtain a BACP sidewalk café permit and take your business to the next level.

Are you a business owner in Chicago looking to expand your operations onto the sidewalk? Let Permit Studio help! Our team of expert permit expediters can guide you through the BACP sidewalk café permit process and ensure that your application is complete and accurate. We'll work with the City to gather the necessary documents and information and submit your application on your behalf, all while keeping you informed and updated throughout the process. Don't let the permit process hold you back - contact Permit Studio today to learn more about our permit expediting services for BACP sidewalk café permits in Chicago.

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