City planning street cafe pilot program

A street cafe takes the parklet concept, first introduced in the city in 2014, and expands it to table service.

Parklets are public patio structures that extend the sidewalk into the roadway and provide seating, bike parking, planters and public art. City ordinances prevent restaurants from serving directly to people in a parklet. Street cafes are similar to parklets but serve as an extension of the restaurant or cafe and won’t be open to the public.

An example of a street cafe. Photo courtesy the City of Minneapolis
An example of a street cafe. Photo courtesy the City of Minneapolis

The street cafe program will begin as a pilot this August with five initial locations and five more added in 2017. Lacy Shelby, a principal urban designer for the city, said the pilot program is a way to test, prototype, and collect data on its success.

After the pilot, the program would open to all 240 restaurants with licensed sidewalk cafes in Minneapolis, considering they meet the necessary regulations and permits.

Street cafes and parklets must be in an unrestricted parking lane in the front of a restaurant and level with the sidewalk. Businesses are also responsible for design, construction, insurance, maintenance and installation costs.

Street cafes and parklets have been successful in other cities, including Seattle (streateries), Portland (street seats, New York and San Diego (curb cafes).

Parklets started as a pilot in 2014 with 3 owned by the city. That expanded to 10 by 2016 with a refined, application-based program.