Shop the Block Pilot Program

 Food, Beverage & Retail Permit to Extend Outdoor Operations During COVID-19

Shop the Block is a pilot program to help businesses during the pandemic. If you are a food, beverage or retail business you can apply for a 6 month permit to expand your outdoor area. Businesses can expand operations outdoors onto private parking lots, public sidewalks, public parking spaces or roads and alleyways in front of their establishments. 

The City of Austin is committed to innovative ways to increase resiliency for small business owners and their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Open air dining and shopping will serve to attract more business activity, help boost the local economy, and create a pedestrian-friendly environment.  

Shop the Block permitting began June 15, 2020 and has now been expanded to June 2021. Businesses must still operate safely with adequate social distancing measures to protect customers. 

Eligible Business Types 

This pilot program allows retail stores, restaurants and bars to sell or provide goods, food, and beverages on private parking lots and 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 goal of the program is to help businesses get back to 100% occupancy. The combined number of people within the expanded areas and all permanent spaces cannot exceed the maximum occupant load issued for the property. You can shift occupancy allowed indoors to the expanded outdoor space.

Shop the Block Support

Quick, affordable permits are available to help you right now. Dedicated Austin Center for Events staff are available to support you through the application process. Contact us before you apply to ask questions, review site plans or schedule a site visit. Email specialevents@austintexas.gov for help. 

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.

ACE is here to help. Email specialevents@austintexas.gov for support. A real person is available to help you. 

Shop the Block Permit Fees

Private or Public Outdoor Space? Seating Added Tent Added? Permit Fee Tent Fee 1 Add'l Tent Fee      Usage Fee (see frequency) Inspection Fee Refundable Deposit  Total Cost  Itemized Fees and Fee Frequency 
Private <49 NO 0 0 0 0 0 0  FREE  No cost to add 49 seats or less without tents. Also applies to retail racks & tables with no chairs or tent. 
Private <49 YES 0  $306.00 $51.00 0 0 0 $306.00 STB Permit is free, tent fee is $306. $51 for each additional tent. Also applies to retail racks & tables.
Private >50 NO  $306.00 0 0 0 0 0 $306.00 Permit Fee is $306
Private >50 YES  $306.00 0    $51.00 0 0 0 $306.00 Permit fee is $306 including one tent. $51 for each additional tent
Public  N/A NO $100.00 0 0 $50.00 $76.00 50.00  $276.00 Application fee is $100, usage fee is $50, inspection fee is $76, Refundable deposit is $50
Public  N/A YES  $100.00 $204.00 0 $50.00 $76.00 $50.00 $480.00 Application fee is $100, usage fee is $50, inspection fee is $76, refundable deposit is $50, tent fee is $204. Also applies to retail racks & tables.
Public Parking Space, Street, Alley or Lane Closure N/A NO  $250.00 0 0 $200.00 $76.00 $2,000.00 $2,526.00 Application fee is $250, usage fee is $200 per block per day, inspection fee is $76, per inspection and refundable deposit is $2000
Public Parking Space, Street, Alley or Lane Closure N/A YES  $250.00  $204.00 0 $200.00 $76.00 $2,000.00 $2,730.00 Application fee is $250, usage fee is $200 per block per day, inspection fee is $76 per inspection, tent fee is $204 and refundable deposit is $2000
 

Shop the Block Fee Scenarios

Fee Examples
 Scenario 1  Business adds <50 seats in their own parking lot - Total cost is free
 Scenario 2  Business adds <50 seats and two tents in their own lot - Total cost is $408
 Scenario 3  Business adds >50 seats in their own parking lot - Total cost is $306
 Scenario 4  Business adds >50 seats and three tents in their own parking lot - Total cost is $459
 Scenario 5  Business adds <50 seats in the public ROW - Total cost $276 and $50 every subsequent month
 Scenario 6  Business adds <50 seats and a tent in the public ROW - Total cost $480 and $50 every subsequent month
 Scenario 7  Business adds >50 seats in the public ROW - Total cost $276 and $50 every subsequent month
 Scenario 8  Business adds >50 seats and a tent in the public ROW - Total $480 and $50 every subsequent month
Scenario 9  Business adds >50 seats and 2 tents total is $531 
Scenario 10 Business closes street, alley or lane for a day - Total cost is $2,526 ($2,000 refundable deposit) and $276 each subsequent day
 Scenario 11  Business closes street, alley or lane for a day with a ten - Total cost $2,730 ($2,000 refundable deposit) and $276 each subsequent day
 Scenario 12  Business adds racks or tables in a private lot - The total cost is free. 
 Scenario 13  Business adds racks or tables in a public ROW -  The total cost is $276.
 Scenario 14  Business adds racks or tables in public ROW with one tent - The total cost is $480
 

Extension Requirements & Details

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
  • The Shop the Block program supports temporary sidewalk cafes consisting primarily of tables and chairs. While visual barriers and smaller items such as removable planters may be able to be accommodated, more significant or permanent furnishings and structures require the business to go through the sidewalk café permit process.

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

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 6 months. Once ACE receives your 100% completed application we will begin the 10 day application turnaround timeframe.  

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. 

Read  Temporary Modifications of Licensed Premises for details. 

Please submit your request for a Temporary Modification of Licensed Premises (TMLP) form to cateringaustinregion@tabc.texas.gov.

Forms and Guides 

Email specialevents@austintexas.gov for support. 

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