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Appointment Only

Building Inspection is open to the public by appointment only.

For more on appointments and other services, please see the Building Inspection Services page.

Outdoor Eating Areas

This webpage explains how businesses can apply to set up an outdoor eating area on private property.

For outdoor eating areas on the public sidewalk or street, contact Meghan Blake-Horst. To speak with Megan, the Street Vending Coordinator, you can email or call at (608) 261-9171.



How are outdoor eating areas on private property different from the Streatery program? 

The Streatery Program was a temporary program. We put it into place through a COVID-19 emergency order. The order allowed City agencies to waive requirements for outdoor eating areas.

Outdoor eating areas are now an allowed use in the zoning code. All ordinance requirements apply as they would to any other site change.

Once we approve your outdoor eating area, you can install the same eating area plan every year. Unlike the Streatery program, you will not need to apply annually. Please note, outdoor eating areas on the street or sidewalk will still need to apply and receive approval annually.

What do I need to submit to get approval for an outdoor eating area?

The Outdoor Eating Area Submission Checklist has a detailed list of requirements, including:

We have example site plans and fence details to help you understand the requirements

Do I need to hire an architect to draw my site plan?

No, you do not have to hire an architect or other design professional to draw your site plan. However, hiring someone to create a site plan is an option. Contact Zoning at or 608-266-4551 to find out if your site has a site plan on file.

Why do Outdoor Eating Area reviews take longer than Streetery program approvals?

Under the COVID-19 emergency order, City agencies could waive requirements. Since we are no longer under an emergency order, all requirements now apply. We need detailed plans to make sure eating areas meet all the regulations. As part of reviews, we check whether you can reduce the number of parking spaces. We will also review previous approvals for your site. In some cases, we may also need approval by the Plan Commission or Urban Design Commission.

Do I need to apply again next year for my Outdoor Eating Area on private property?

No. Once we approve your eating area, you can install the same area every year without an application. Please note, outdoor eating areas within the public right-of-way will still need to apply and receive approval annually.

I thought outdoor eating areas were permitted uses now. Why do I need to go the Plan Commission for approval?

Some sites still need additional approval for an outdoor eating area. Some examples are:

  • Located within an Urban Design District

  • Located within a Planned Development (PD) zoning district

  • Previously approved as a conditional use

  • Reduction of the number of parking spaces beyond what we can approve administratively

  • Outdoor eating area open past 9:00 PM

  • Outdoor eating area with live music or outdoor amplified sound


Questions? Contact Zoning staff at (608) 266-4551 or

Last Updated: 12/04/2023

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