Safely Increasing Outdoor Space for Restaurants and Bars - CaféTO Registration Now Open

Today, the City of Toronto announced the opening of online registration for CaféTO, a program that will allow restaurant and bar owners to open patios, expand them, and access additional space for physical distancing. These measures will make it easier for restaurant and bar owners to generate business revenue during the summer months ahead.

The CaféTO program will increase outdoor dining areas by identifying space in the public right-of-way and temporarily expediting the current application and permitting process for new sidewalk cafés and parklets.

A City staff report on CaféTO, scheduled for consideration at the next Executive Committee meeting on June 22, proposes the City take quick action to make way for additional safe outdoor dining spaces for local restaurants and bars. A simple online registration form and guidebook for the proposed program is now available at toronto.ca/cafeTO

Restaurants and bars, along with their patios, remain closed for dine-in service due to provincial orders and public health recommendations. Restaurants with existing patios can open them once provincial orders are lifted, and as long as they follow public health guidelines. 

If approved by Executive Committee, and by Toronto City Council later this month, the CaféTO recommendations would make it easier for many restaurant and bar owners to open new patios, expand existing ones, and access additional space for physical distancing, in accordance with public health guidelines.

The proposed report recommends City staff work closely with qualifying local restaurant and bar operators to establish options for café configurations within the right-of-way, while also temporarily pausing certain bylaw elements for the 2020 patio season to ensure:

  • Rapid installation of permitted cafés while maintaining public safety
  • Access to restaurant and bar services and facilities for those dining outdoors
  • Permit and application fees are waived for approved cafés and
  • Accessibility and physical distancing requirements are met.

Local restaurants and bars can begin the process to register for the proposed new program to better understand requirements and start planning. Opening registration, including providing a new, straight-forward guidebook containing patio placement requirements for approved restaurant and bar operators, represents an important step in preparing for future direction by City Council. Staff continue to prepare now so the City can act quickly to help many qualifying restaurants and bars generate revenue this summer.

A cross-divisional action team from Toronto Public Health, Transportation Services, Economic Development, Municipal Licensing and Standards, City Planning, and Strategic Communications has been overseeing program development to ensure it’s made available as soon as possible, pending committee and council consideration. Members of the group have been working closely with the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), restaurant associations and other key stakeholders to urgently navigate all possible considerations while anticipating issues.

The CaféTO staff report is available online. 

Visit toronto.ca/cafeTO for more details.