Sacramento approves Al Fresco Dining Program

Temporary tents serving as enclosures for al fresco dining on M St. in Sacramento.
The new program will facilitate the implementation of outdoor dining spaces, while also seeking to elevate their design. | Photo by SACtoday Staff

The Sacramento City Council voted unanimously in support of a program that will permanently allow al fresco dining Tuesday afternoon. It goes into effect Fri., July 1.

City officials have been preparing to set the table (or patio) with the Al Fresco Dining Program since June 15, 2021 — when the council extended the temporary program for outdoor dining brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic until June 30, 2022.

The formalized program recognizes that these spaces, which were crucial to keeping many of our local restaurants open while residents were asked to mask up and social distance, have added to the vibrancy of our communities + are worth investing in.

Here are some of the program’s staple features:

  • Offering five civil patio layouts that are free-of-charge, customizable + durable enough to weather the Sacramento seasons 
  • A simplified permitting process with hands-on support from the city
  • Increasing outdoor dining capacity for restaurants
  • Improve patio designs that both elevate the dining experience + are more pedestrian friendly

Funding for the program —$200,000 to be exact — comes from part of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act Small Business Support Project budget. In fall of 2022, the City Council will reconvene to approve a monthly fee schedule as well as a grant program that will help offset costs incurred from the transition. 

Following effusive praise on the project from the public and councilmembers, Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby said that this whole development is “one of the great things to have come from the past few years.”

Do you currently operate a patio space in Sac, but aren’t sure about this new program? Don’t put a fork in it just yet — the current allowance for outdoor dining has been approved for another year.