Sidewalk Cafés

Establishments serving alcohol must arrange to be included on the Alcohol License Review Committee (ALRC) Agenda at (608) 266-2401, before operating their sidewalk café.

How to Apply for a Sidewalk Café License

You can apply online or by mail.

If you are applying for the first time, the Street Vending Coordinator must meet you at the site to discuss the sidewalk café set-up. Physical circumstances must be appropriate in the space being considered before a sidewalk café application will be approved. Some requests may be denied. Once the planning stage has begun, you may speak with the Street Vending Coordinator as often as needed while you are developing your idea to completion. Later, the Street Vending Coordinator will make at least one more visit to the site to see the final set-up of all tables, chairs, fencing, covered waste receptacle, umbrellas, etc. If everything meets with City of Madison specifications at that time, the Street Vending Coordinator will approve your application with his signature.
Applying for a Sidewalk Café License Online
 
The application for this license can be completed on the City of Madison Licenses & Permits portal.
  • If you do not have one already, you must create an account on the Licenses & Permits portal to fill out the application.
  • Once you login to your account go to the Licenses/Registrations section, select Apply for a License/Registration and then choose Vending - Sidewalk Café.
 
Applying for a Sidewalk Café License By Mail
  1. Complete the Application for Sidewalk Café License (PDF), including diagram.
  2. Submit an insurance certificate (General liability insurance at a minimum of one million dollars, naming City of Madison as Additional Insured). Go to Insurance Requirements.
  3. Enclose payment based on the number of chairs in your sidewalk cafe as follows:
    • 9 or fewer chairs: $400.00/year
    • 10 to 15 chairs: $550.00/year
    • 16 to 20 chairs: $650.00/year
    • 21 or more chairs: $750.00/year

Guidelines

All sidewalk café components must be removed from the sidewalk at the close of each business day or at a time determined by the Alcohol License Review Committee (ALRC).
 
Covered Trash Receptacle: A covered trash receptacle is required for your sidewalk café patrons' use to help keep your café looking tidy and avoiding the use of public trashcans.
 
Decorative Lighting: Low-voltage, battery or solar powered light strings or other decorative lighting may be used on sidewalk café enclosures and umbrellas. Any such lighting shall be securely fastened to the enclosure or umbrella, so that it does not blow or swing in the wind, and shall not hang in such a way to create a hazard. No such lighting or other decorative features or cords shall be strung from the building or any public amenity. In no case shall any lighting or electrical devices that must be plugged into a power source, or any extension cords, be used within the café, on an umbrella, or on the surrounding sidewalk, for any reason.
 
Umbrella Width: Your umbrellas should not project outside the perimeter of your sidewalk café.
 

Alcohol Management

            1.         Subdivision (m) of Subsection (4) entitled "General Restrictions on Vending" of Section 9.13 entitled "License for Selling on Public Streets" of the Madison General Ordinances is amended to read as follows:

"(m)     All vending equipment, including carts, tables, apparatus and merchandise shall be removed from the streets, sidewalks, terrace area or other vending location during times when vending is prohibited, unless a different restriction is established pursuant to a street use permit issued under Sec. 10.056 of these ordinances, or pursuant to regulations adopted under this chapter, and except as specified for Mall/Concourse sidewalk cafes in Sec. 9.13(6)(l)1.d. and city-wide sidewalk cafes in Sec. 9.13(5)(h)."

            2.         Subdivision (r) entitled "Vending Hours Restricted in Residential Areas" of Subsection (4) entitled "General Restrictions on Vending" of Section 9.13 entitled "License for Selling on Public Streets" of the Madison General Ordinances is amended to read as follows:

"(r)       Vending Hours Restricted in Residential Areas.  Street vending shall be prohibited between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. on any street or sidewalk located within any residentially zoned district listed under Sec. 28.021(1) and as indicated on official Zoning District Maps on file in the office of the City Zoning Administrator, except for city-wide sidewalk cafes which are subject to Sec. 9.13(5)(h)."

            3.         Subdivision (h) entitled "Hours of Operation, Alcohol Service" of Subsection (5) entitled "Citywide (Non-Mall/Concourse) Sidewalk Cafe Licenses" of Section 9.13 entitled "License for Selling on Public Streets" of the Madison General Ordinances is created to read as follows:

"(h)      Hours of Operation, Alcohol Service.   Citywide sidewalk cafes shall operate only when the establishment is open for business, and are exempt from any earlier closing time for street vending in the area where the establishment is located.  If the establishment holds an alcohol beverage license, alcohol service shall stop and all containers of alcohol beverages shall be off the tables and removed from the café by 1:00 a.m. unless an earlier closing time has been required on the establishment's alcohol beverage license."

            4.         Paragraph 3. entitled "Sidewalk Cafes with Alcohol Beverage License" of Subdivision (j) entitled "Miscellaneous Restrictions on Merchant Vendors and Sidewalk Cafes" of Subsection (6) entitled "Regulations and Procedures for Vending on the State Street Mall/Capitol Concourse" of Section 9.13 entitled "License for Selling on Public Streets" of the Madison General Ordinances is amended to read as follows:

"3.       Sidewalk Cafes with Alcohol Beverage License.

a.         Consumption of alcohol beverages in all sidewalk cafes shall be limited to persons seated at tables in the sidewalk cafe site.

b.         A sidewalk café licensee serving alcohol beverages shall be responsible for policing the area of the sidewalk cafe to be sure that customers are of the legal drinking age and that alcohol beverages are not removed from the premises, consistent with the applicable requirements for alcohol beverage license holders in Chapter 38, MGO.

c.         For sidewalk cafes within the State Street Mall/Capitol Concourse Vending Area (as defined in Sec. 9.13(6)(a)) alcohol service shall stop and all containers of alcohol beverages shall be off the tables and removed from the café by 1:00 a.m., unless an earlier closing time has been required on the establishment's alcohol beverage license.  There shall be no sale of alcohol for consumption at a sidewalk cafe after 1:00 a.m. or the time specifically indicated on the alcohol beverage license, whichever is earlier, until normal opening of business each day.

            5.         Paragraph 1. entitled "Hours" of Subdivision (l) entitled "Miscellaneous Vending Restrictions" of Subsection (6) entitled "Regulations and Procedures for Vending on the State Street Mall/Capitol Concourse" of Section 9.13 entitled "License for Selling on Public Streets" of the Madison General Ordinances is amended to read as follows:

"1.       Hours.  The permitted hours for all street vending on the State Street Mall/Capitol Concourse shall be from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., with the following exceptions:

a.         Permitted hours in the Late Night Vending areas shall be as established in Sec. 9.13(6)(n).

b.         Permitted hours for vending may be modified pursuant to a resolution adopted by the Common Council under Sec. 9.13(6)(k).

c.         All vending equipment (including sidewalk cafés licensed under this section) shall be completely removed during the hours in which vending is not permitted, except that sidewalk café equipment shall be removed no later than thirty (30) minutes after the establishment closes. 

d.         Sidewalk cafes on the Mall/Concourse may remain open until the establishment closes, subject to the provisions of Sec. 9.13(6)(j)3. regarding alcohol service."           

6.         Subparagraph c. of Paragraph 2. entitled "Miscellaneous Restrictions on Sidewalk Cafes" of Subdivision (j) entitled "Miscellaneous Restrictions on Merchant Vendors and Sidewalk Cafes" of Subsection (6) entitled "Regulations and Procedures for Vending on the State Street Mall/Capitol Concourse" of Section 9.13 entitled "License for Selling on Public Streets" of the Madison General Ordinances is amended to read as follows:

"c.        Except in the case of sidewalk cafes having permanent facilities approved as a conditional use by the Plan Commission, all tables, chairs, and all other materials and equipment must be removed from the site no later than thirty (30) minutes after the close of business until normal opening of business each day.  Nothing herein shall in any way be deemed to limit the right of the Plan Commission to review any matters within the Plan Commission's jurisdiction."

 

Last Updated: 04/21/2014

Contact Warren Hansen, Street Vending Coordinator

  • PH: 608-261-9171
  • FAX: 608-261-6126
  • EMAIL: streetvending@cityofmadison.com
  • MAIL ADDRESS:
    Department of Planning & Community & Economic Development
    Economic Development Division
    Office of Business Resources
    Madison Municipal Building
    215 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
    P.O. Box 2985
    Madison WI 53701-2985