Orlando offering restaurants financial assistance to open up sidewalk cafés

Businesses can get up to $5,000

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Downtown Orlando Community Redevelopment Area, CRA, is now offering grants for restaurants downtown to help encourage them to open outdoor seating.

The effort is called the Sidewalk Café Incentive, or SCI, Program and is offering “up to $5,000 or 50% of the total cost of eligible products, whichever is less,” according to the CRA’s website.

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The money can be used for partitions or barriers, outdoor furniture, trash cans, portable heaters and planters. The money can also be applied to fabrication costs and fees, such as material and labor costs and permitting fees.


“Sidewalk cafés bring a vibrancy to our community and provide a welcoming place for people to meet, relax and dine. Encouraging downtown properties to add or enhance their sidewalk cafés will be beneficial to citizens and attract more people to downtown Orlando,” a document explaining the SCI program reads.

Businesses can apply for the grant by clicking here. In order to qualify, a business must be located within the CRA. That area is outlined in the document above.

The businesses will also have to apply for the appropriate permits from the city prior to opening their outdoor dining space. The requirements for those outdoor dining spaces can be found here. Applications to the city can be made by clicking here. Orlando’s ordinances for sidewalk cafés can be found by clicking here.

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At the height of the pandemic, the city temporarily relaxed its zoning rules for outdoor sales and dining to help restaurants and other businesses deal with indoor seating and capacity restrictions; however, those relaxed zoning rules expired on Aug. 1.

Since those rules expired, the city has issued 14 sidewalk café permits, according to a spokesperson.

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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.