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Temporary Outdoor Expansions for Restaurants and Bars

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Temporary Outdoor Expansion Program Extended!

The Temporary Outdoor Expansions Program will now run through October 2021. Please see below for more information.

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The City and County of Denver created a temporary program to allow restaurants and bars to operate in outdoor settings adjacent to their businesses. The program aims to allow for greater physical distancing and safety for patrons now that the state’s public health orders allow restaurants and bars to resume sit-down service. Proposals could include expansion into designated outdoor areas such as adjacent parking lots, streets, and sidewalks.

Eligible businesses can use the form below to submit an outdoor expansion proposal for the city to review. Considerations for every proposal will include safety, mobility, and local and emergency access.

Additional application materials will likely be required based on the specifics of the proposal.  

The following types of businesses may be eligible for this program: restaurants, cafes, fast food outlets, coffee shops, bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distillery pubs, wineries, tasting rooms, and other similar places of public accommodation offering food, beverages, or alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.

While this program does not apply to mobile food trucks/carts, these businesses have been able to serve -- and can continue serving -- to-go food while following social distancing, sanitary and hygiene practices.  

Under this program, eligible businesses may be able to temporarily expand into the following types of outdoor areas:

  • Private property, including off-street parking lots with the property owner's consent
  • Public right-of-way, including sidewalks, street parking spaces, and possibly closing select streets

In both scenarios, some limitations apply, as summarized below.

Private Property

There are two zoning codes in effect in Denver. Search here to find your zoning.

Most private property is zoned under the Denver Zoning Code (DZC). These properties can expand outdoors on their own property or on a neighboring property (with permission from the other property owner), including using any number of off-street parking spaces. 

If your property is zoned under the Former Chapter 59 zoning code (FC59), you can only use outdoor area on your own property and you can only occupy off-street parking spaces that are above and beyond the minimum number of spaces required by code.

Public Right-of-Way

Proposals to expand into the public right-of-way will require that a right-of-way inspector visit the business location and consider the closure proposal from a mobility and safety perspective. An inspector may be able to approve a simple inspection in the field and issue an approval the following business day. More complex requests will be reviewed for:

  • Safety: ensuring any closure of the public right of way is done safely
  • Mobility: considering impacts to people’s ability to get around the closure by foot, bike, wheelchair and car and how the proposal mitigates impacts with a traffic control plan, if necessary
  • Local and emergency access: local access to adjacent homes and businesses must be maintained

Once a temporary patio is established, a right-of-way inspector will do a final inspection.

Note: All conditions and restrictions below apply to the new, temporary outdoor patio space only.

Program Expiration

This is a temporary program to support our local eateries, bars and residents. 

It will be available through October 2021. Businesses will have one week upon the conclusion of the program to remove any fixtures from their outdoor area. Outdoor patios established through this program must complete an initial five-day posting that notifies the neighborhood of the dates the patio will operate as well as subsequent postings as directed by the Department of Excise and Licenses. Language for a new posting will be provided to businesses by Denver Excise and Licenses.

Hours of Operation

Outdoor patios opened under this program must close by 10 p.m. on Sundays - Thursdays and by 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Allowed Uses of the Patio

Outdoor patios established under this program can only be used for sit-down dining or customer pick-up and carry-out service. Recorded ambient or background music and television is allowed on the extended patios if in compliance with Denver’s noise ordinance. If a business would like to provide recorded music or televisions on the extended patio, they must ensure the neighborhood was notified through a five-day posting.  If a business was previously approved for an expanded patio and the posting did not indicate they would be having recorded or ambient music or televised sports, they must re-post for five days before playing music or using TVs.  The language for an updated posting will be provided to businesses by Denver Excise and Licenses. 

Expanded outdoor patios cannot be used for activities that would promote congregating, involve shared equipment, or amplify sound, including but not limited to:

  • Standing areas
  • Live music, entertainment or dancing
  • Outdoor games
  • Loudspeaker call systems
  • Pets, except as provided in the Americans with Disabilities Act

Permits and Licenses 

Permits may be necessary for certain proposals, for instance closing streets or alleys. Proposals to operate exclusively on private property will likely be approved more quickly without needing permits.

Temporary furnishings and railings can be used if desired. On either public or private property, installing fences/barriers over 5'9" in height, constructing a patio covering, performing electrical work, erecting gas-fired temporary heating, or other similar construction work will likely require building, fire or electrical permits. All furnishings and lighting must be easily removed at the end of the program period.

Businesses that have a liquor license will need to submit additional documentation upon request in order to modify their existing liquor license with the city and state, AND will need to post public notice for five days prior to opening the new patio area. Denver's Department of Excise and Licenses will submit these applications to the state for expedited review. If Excise and Licenses receives 15 written protests via U.S. mail or email to, a public hearing may be required before approvals can be granted. This only applies to businesses that have a liquor license.

Sharing Patio Space

Businesses may not share outdoor premises unless they have also been approved for a Communal Outdoor Dining Area. Each establishment must maintain control of its operations and food and beverage service.

Additional COVID-19 Health and Safety Requirements

Please consult the State of Colorado’s guidance for restaurants for additional requirements on social distancing, maximum capacity, cleaning protocols, and more.

Read more about the program in Denver's FAQs >> 

(PDF download)

Application Process

What happens after your interest form is received:

No liquor license and no expansion into the right-of-way  Yes liquor license but no expansion into the right-of-way  Yes liquor license and yes expansion
into right-of-way 
Customer will be referred to Community Planning and Development for confirmation/approval of the expansion
  • Excise and License will request additional documentation and paperwork for liquor license expansion
  • Five-day posting required
  • Inspections
  • Site visit with Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and Excise and License MAY be required.
  • DOTI will request additional information including an E-permit account, Street Occupancy Permit application, site plan including traffic control measures and insurance documentation
  • Excise and License will request additional documentation and
    paperwork for liquor license expansion
  • Five-day posting required
  • Inspections

Grant Funding to Support Outdoor Expansion Expenses

Main Street Strong

Denver supports organizations providing grant funding for restaurants to assist in purchasing necessary items to expand outdoor dining during the cold weather months.

The Colorado Restaurant Foundation established a Colorado Outdoor Winter Dining Grant Program designed for Colorado restaurants that have demonstrated financial need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn about eligibility and rules to apply.

DoorDash has announced that the Main Street Strong grant funding program for Denver businesses can be applied for online. More information about future grant programs will be posted on this website when it becomes available. 

The Downtown Denver Partnership hosted an informational session on Thursday, October 29 with representatives from several Denver agencies to provide tips for safely and lawfully expanding outdoor service areas during cold weather months.

Approved Businesses For Temporary Outdoor Patio Expansions

See a current list of businesses that have been approved for the temporary outdoor patio expansions.


Submit Your Proposal

City staff will begin reviewing proposals immediately. If approved to open, expanded patio areas can remain in place through October 31, 2020, subject to local and state health guidelines.

Please review the Conditions and Restrictions above before submitting your proposal.

Form Translations
Learn more
Need help?

Please contact with questions about this program.

Sign up for Colorado’s Exposure Notifications Service!

One of the key tools to fight COVID-19 and slow its spread is right in your pocket. CO Exposure Notifications is a free and voluntary service developed in partnership with Google and Apple that can notify users of possible exposure to COVID-19. 

Need to report a single case of COVID-19 in an employee?

The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE), Denver’s local public health department, is coordinating with local, state, and federal agencies as well as other local partners to provide accurate information about COVID-19. We are continually augmenting the City of Denver’s response plans for COVID-19 and taking measures to reduce local transmission, share resources, and provide accurate communication.

Please review and adhere to these requirements in the event of a single suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in an employee.

Need to report a COVID-19 outbreak?

The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment and Denver Public Health are committed to collaborating with local businesses and organizations to investigate and control COVID-19 outbreaks.

To report an outbreak of COVID-19 (2 or more cases) in a Denver workplace or organization, please complete our online form. We will review the information submitted, and you or the workplace will be contacted by a representative within 24 hours to discuss the next steps.

If you have urgent questions or need immediate assistance before we follow-up, please email or call 3-1-1 (720-913-1311).


Program Extension 

The City and County of Denver is extending its program allowing restaurants and eligible bars the ability to create outdoor consumption areas amid COVID-19. The program that was originally slated to end on September 7, 2020 will now run through October 2021.

Businesses not impacting the public right of way can request a 120-day extension past Oct. 31, 2020. Businesses that have expanded into the public right of way can request a 90-day extension past Oct. 31, 2020, allowing Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) to review street, sidewalk, alley, parking, and travel lane closures associated with the program. Under new rules, businesses participating in the program can also apply for additional extensions after being approved for their 90- or 120-day extension. Each neighborhood impacted by the outdoor expansion extension will have the ability to request a public hearing to address issues such as concerning noise levels if they exist.

Restaurants and bars are allowed to add recorded ambient or background music and television to their outdoor serving area if it does not disturb the neighborhood.

There is a required five-day posting to allow neighborhood input for all restaurants and bars wanting to extend their participation in the program or add recorded music or televised programming.
Download the Extension Notice Template (.docx)

Future public health orders due to an increase in COVID-19 cases or any other changes to rules and regulations can still result in the program being suspended or ended.

Posting Notice Instructions:

  1. Complete the template with the requested information pertaining to your business (Business address, Entity Name, Trade Name, etc.).
  2. Please print the completed template on 11” X 17” inch paper.
  3. Post the printed Posting Notice in a conspicuous area visible to the public walking and driving by.
  4. Please take two pictures of the posted notice after it is installed and email them to
    • The first picture should demonstrate the completed posting with the applicable language filled in the blanks.
    • The second picture should demonstrate that it is posted in a place visible to the public from the sidewalk.
  5. Please keep the posting displayed for five(5) consecutive days beginning at 8 am on the first day and ending at 5 pm on the 5th consecutive day. 

Questions and Answers

Insurance is required as part of this permit and many permittees only extended their policy through October 31, 2020 date. Some locations may already have scheduled construction activities that would conflict with your expansion.

If you wish to modify your setup taking into consideration the changes in weather during the cold-weather season, we will need an updated site plan to ensure the desired changes still allow for public safety and mobility. Additional inspections and permits may be required.

DOTI wants to provide sufficient time to enable the seamless operation of your business. We know these are challenging times, so we are trying to provide as much time as possible for you to make the necessary updates and for us to evaluate your location to provide you with a full understanding of what may be planned during the additional two months that this temporary program has been allowed to operate.

DOTI Fees for the temporary program and the extension are waived.

Have Additional Questions?

Visit our e-Permitting page where you can access your account and permit files online.

If you have any additional questions or require assistance with this process, please feel free to contact us at