The City of Orlando has taken a step back on its recently shared plans to fight spiking crime in the Central Business District by scaling back sidewalk cafes, among other strategies like shutting down outdoor speakers facing the streets and putting more officers in the streets (both of which are still moving forward).

City Council was set to revisit a number of policies that included shutting down outdoor dining between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. as well as doing away with the temporary outdoor dining permits made possible during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic but made an announcement late last week that sidewalk cafes were no longer necessarily on the chopping block.

Dear Business Owner,

Most of you are aware that the city has proposed changes in the Downtown Entertainment Area for how we handle outside loudspeakers and sidewalk cafés. These and other efforts are intended to help provide a safer social environment for our patrons and residents, and to address criminal activity which in one recent instance resulted in a tragic loss of life.

Among the measures discussed was the possibility of limiting the use of sidewalk café space and requiring it be removed each night by 10 pm. I want to let you know that we are NOT bringing this recommendation forward for consideration by City Council at this time.

We are still proceeding with the moratorium on new loudspeaker permits in the public right of way, and we are still requiring establishments to obtain permits for their sidewalk cafés if not properly permitted. For a copy of the city’s sidewalk café ordinance, click here. Code Enforcement staff will be out to ensure these requirements are enforced, and formal notices will be forthcoming in the event they discover violations.

For information on how to obtain permits for your sidewalk cafés, you can use this link and follow the instructions provided.

We continue to recognize this has been a challenging year for our downtown businesses as a result of the pandemic and the impacts COVID-19 has had on your operations. We’re also aware of how important it is that we work with you to ensure that we provide a safe and secure environment for you and your patrons here in our beloved downtown Orlando (DTO).

As we move through this process and look at additional potential measures, we recognize businesses like yours are an important part of the solution in the overall safety of our downtown. If you would like to be engaged in future meetings, please sign up here to receive notifications. 

If you have any questions or additional feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


It currently costs $500 to get a Sidewalk Cafe Permit from the City of Orlando, which allows for up to five tables or 200 SF of space to be reserved for a restaurant or bar in the public right-of-way. It costs $750 for up to six tables or more than 200 SF and the permit must be renewed each year for a $50 fee. Renewals are only considered if there was a sidewalk cafe permit issued for the previous year in the system and no changes have been reported/proposed.

According to the City of Orlando, at the time of this post, there are only nine active Sidewalk Cafe Permits issued, citywide, for seating in the public right-of-way.

A group of 30 downtown hospitality business orders joined forces last week to submit a letter to the City of Orlando, voicing concerns over the proposed strategy which you can download by clicking the link below.

The City is currently poised to carry out a six-month moratorium on any new outdoor speaker permits that face outwards to the public right-of-way/sidewalks within the Central Business District.

Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of

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