Shop the Block Pilot Program

Open Air Food, Beverage & Shopping Permit to Extend Business’s Operational Area During COVID-19

Shop the Block is a pilot program operational during COVID-19 to help businesses during the pandemic. This program allows businesses to apply for a 30-day permit, renewable for up to 6 months during the pilot period. Businesses can expand their operations outdoors onto their private parking lots and public sidewalk – while maintaining ADA compliance – as well as onto the public parking spaces in front of their establishments, for customer waiting or service. Open air dining and shopping will serve to attract more business activity, help boost the local economy, and create a pedestrian-friendly environment.  

The City of Austin is committed to employing innovative measures that increase resiliency for small business owners and their employees, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Shop the Block permitting begins June 15, 2020 through December 15, 2020. Businesses must still operate safely with adequate social distancing measures to protect customers. 

Who can apply? 

This pilot program allows an adjacent retail store, restaurants and bars to sell or provide goods, food, and beverages on City streets, sidewalks, or rights-of-way, including city on-street parking spaces. Eligible applicants include:

  • Retail stores
  • Restaurants
  • Cocktail lounges, taverns & bars
  • A group of retail stores, restaurants, or cocktail lounges, taverns & bars that share a private parking lot or are located on the same two blocks of a street, sidewalk, or city right-of-way

The number of attendees may not exceed the occupancy limit for the retail store, restaurant, cocktail lounge or group of retail stores or restaurants.

How does this work? 

Extend to a Sidewalk Cafe

You will need:

Rules for Permit Approval:

  • A Sidewalk Cafe cannot interfere with other curb uses. Please examine the proposed area for any conflicts along the curb, in advance.
  • Conflicts with existing curb uses that will result in denial of the permit application include a conflict with a fire hydrant, bus stop or transit station, loading zone, taxi zones or handicap-access parking space.
  • Sidewalk Café requirements include site and curb clearance. As part of the permit review process, the proposed site plan will be reviewed to ensure it meets all design, setback, and clearance requirements.
  • Area will need to include a sufficient waste management plan

Extend Outdoor Area into Public Parking Spaces

You will need:

Rules for Permit Approval:

  • As part of the permit review process, the proposed site plan will be reviewed to ensure it meets all design, setback, and clearance requirements
  • Temporary structures may be allowed but cannot be affixed to the street or curb
  • ADA access must be maintained and applicants should have at least one table that is ADA accessible
  • Safety requirements for requested parking spaces may differ depending on location.  Not all parking spaces may be approved due to safety concerns
  • Storm drains must be covered
  • A physical barrier is required alongside the travel lane
  • Don’t create dangerous confusion or conflicts between the pedestrian area and vehicle lanes
  • Don’t create a traffic safety hazard by interfering with visibility of pedestrians, street signs or signals, begin within 20 feet of an intersection or crosswalk, or block access to a driveway, or sight lines of cars emerging from the driveway
  • Don’t interfere with the root system or health of existing street trees. In particular, ensure that your design will not lead people to walk over a street tree’s well/pit or through a landscaped area 
  • Street patios cannot interfere with other curb uses. Please examine the proposed area for any conflicts along the curb, in advance. Conflicts with existing curb uses that will result in denial of the permit application include a conflict with a fire hydrant, bus stop or transit station, loading zone, taxi zones or handicap-access parking space, other specially designated zones.
  • If parking is metered on the block, it is recommended that a street patio not occupy more than half of the total parking spaces on the block.
  • Street patios cannot block manholes or utility boxes/covers. Be aware that if utility providers should need to excavate the street, you may be required to temporarily remove the street patio
  • Area will need to include a sufficient waste management plan

Extend into a Street or Alley or Request a Travel Lane Closure

You will need:

  • Site Plan (guidelines
  • ACE Application  - Tier 2 Application Process Required 
  • Occupancy Load Form (sample)
  • Sign off from 80% of property owners or lessees within the requested block or street. Neighbors should be aware of and in agreement with the proposed plan in writing to the person or organization seeking the permit.

Rules for Permit Approval: 

  • For street, alley or travel lane closure applicants will go through a regular Tier 2 Special Event Permit process request
  • Area will need to include a sufficient waste management plan
  • These requests will be expedited with a 10-business day turn-around timeframe
Extend into a Private Parking Lot

You will need:

  • Site Plan (guidelines
  • ACE Application  
  • Occupancy Load Form (sample)
  • Neighbors should be aware of and in agreement with the proposed plan in writing to the person or organization seeking the permit.
    • Use the Shared Parking Sign-Off Form to turn in with your permit application. Please use this form if other businesses use the same parking lot, i.e., strip centers. If your business has its own parking lot this form is not needed. 

Rules for Permit Approval

  • Allow for the normal, safe, and effective operation of a permanent use on the same site
  • Be compatible with nearby uses
  • Must not adversely affect public health, safety, or convenience
  • Don’t create a traffic hazard or congestion or interrupt or interfere with the normal conduct of uses and activities in the vicinity
  • ADA access must maintained
  • Area will need to include a sufficient waste management plan

On termination of a temporary use, the business engaging in the temporary use shall remove all debris, litter, and other evidence of the use from the site.

How to apply? 

Use the Austin Center for Events Application.  

Application Support and Tips

TABC Requirements

If you are looking to expand your foot print for alcohol sales outside of your existing TABC permissions, you will need a separate permit. 

Please complete and submit this TABC form directly to Sarah Fricke with the Licensing Division. Please note, this form must be submitted a minimum of 10 business days before the start date of the modification.

Before You Apply

Before applying read the How-To Guide for Special Events Application. This will give you an overview of the application process.

To complete the application, you will need the following:

  • Event name. Please use your business name followed by “Shop the Block."
  • Date(s) & Time(s) requested for permit
  • Venue/Business address
  • Contact name & information for billing purposes
  • Site Plan including any placement of tables, chairs, fencing, tents. (See Site Plan Guidelines)
  • Event schedule
  • Occupancy Load Card for business.(See sample Occupancy Load Card) For help with occupancy load or obtaining a temporary load form visit this site.
During the Application
  • Once your have registered and/or signed into the Austin Build + Connect, select Special Events Application.
  • It is recommended that you complete the application entirely once you start the application. However, if you pause, make sure you select Save and Finish Later option
  • When searching the venue/business address, enter:
    • House Number: 2403 (no spaces before or after number)
    • Street Name: 16th (no spaces before or after name, and do not enter directions like West or East)
  • Once you click on search, scroll all the way to the bottom to “Property Type”
  • Click on “Add” to the right of address

Application Screen Shot

During Permit Process

You will need your neighbors to be aware of and in agreement with your plan in writing. Use the forms below to submit with your application. Forms do not need to be submitted with application but must be submitted before permit approval. In an effort to support social distancing, an email from your neighbors will also be sufficient for this process. 

Permit Approval

Permits expire and must be renewed every 30 days. Once ACE receives your 100% completed application we will begin the 10 day application turn around timeframe.  

What are the permit fees? 

Permit fees and insurance requirements apply.

Sidewalk and Parking Space Closures 

  • Application Fee: $100.00
  • Usage fee: $50 every 30 days
  • Inspection fee: $76.00
  • Deposit: $50.00 - Refundable
  • Tent fee: $204 or $51 each if done as part of Outdoor Event Permit 
  • Insurance requirements remain

Street or Alley or Travel Lane Closure

  • Application Fee: $250
  • Usage fee: $200 per block per day
  • Inspection fee: $76 per day
  • Deposit: $2000.00 – Refundable
  • Tent fee: $204 or $51 each if done as part of Outdoor Event Permit
  • Insurance requirements remain

Additional Resources 

Email specialevents@austintexas.gov for support.