Cincinnati Approves Permanent Outdoor Dining Accommodations


Yesterday, the City of Cincinnati unanimously approved plans to create permanent outdoor dining areas adjacent to bars and restaurants in downtown, Over-the-Rhine and Pendleton.

Historically, the Ohio Division of Liquor Control required a request to expand a permit holder’s premises to cover an outdoor patio area, which had to be approved by the Division before a permit holder could add outdoor dining.  However, due to the ongoing pandemic Ohio now temporarily allows for permit holders to submit a request via an online portal for a faster approval process.  For more information on this process, the Division has issued guidance, available here.

One of the key requirements of this rule change is to have authorization to use outdoor space for dining.  This can obviously be a challenge for those restaurants and bars in dense urban areas where the only “outdoor seating” area is the front sidewalk.

In response to this rule, the City of Cincinnati has approved major changes and permanent renovations in order to make it easier, and much more profitable, for bars and restaurants in downtown, Over-the-Rhine, and Pendleton to take advantage of this new rule.  Specifically, the approved plan calls for installing “parklets” in the place of on-street parking and extending sidewalks in these areas as well.

And while Ohio’s rule change to allow for immediate expansion is temporary, it is important to note that Ohio permit holders can still file for a permanent expansion, which in other words means that this change will be both immediate and permanent for Cincinnati permit holders who are able to take advantage it.

As we have already seen, things change quickly in a pandemic.  Stay tuned for updates and contact an attorney experienced in Ohio liquor law with questions.

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