Outdoor Dining Guidelines

Streateries Guidelines and Manual

A streatery is an outdoor dining or retail space within a public street, typically in a parking space or two. Unlike a parklet, a streatery is typically an extension of an existing restaurant’s “dining room” and is not considered a public space. Streateries can be a great solution for Downtown locations that do not have wide enough sidewalks immediately adjacent to their businesses. Streateries allow for locations to take advantage of the outdoors by creating dining areas along the street in rented parking spaces. Streateries in Norfolk must follow an application and approval process as well as operational and design guidelines as established by the City of Norfolk to ensure the safety of the public. The OpenNorfolk Streateries Program is a pilot program and approved applications will be valid through the end of December 2022. The program will be evaluated and new guidelines issued prior to the end of the program.

Restaurants can purchase a commercial streatery, build their own, or hire a contractor to build one based on pre-approved designs. The Downtown Norfolk Council is offering financial assistance to restaurants interested in building or outfitting a streatery through the Vibrancy Grant program. A matching grant of up to $5,000 can be used to purchase materials, furniture, landscaping or other costs associated with outdoor dining in the street. Please click here for the Vibrancy Grant application.

Restaurant Guidance for Active, Safe and Vibrant Streets

The City of Norfolk is pleased to offer restaurants in Downtown the option of using public sidewalks for outdoor dining areas, where you'll find a wide variety of outdoor dining arrangements, signage and seating styles. In 2019, the Downtown Norfolk Council worked closely with city staff and designers to create an easy-to-read and helpful guide for restaurant owners that can help simplify the process of creating an enjoyable outdoor dining experience. 

These Design Guidelines are intended to ensure two important factors are considered: that restaurants use the public right-of-way for outdoor dining in a way that is safe for all users of the public way, and that the dining areas are visually appropriate for Downtown Historic Overlay District. The Guidelines provide standards for the use of outdoor dining areas in Downtown Norfolk in order to enhance the historic character, visual quality and pedestrian safety of the area while contributing positively to the vibrancy of street life.

Some of the topics addressed include:

  • Identifying the right dining and seating arrangement
  • Laying out the perimeter and what kind of barrier a restaurant might need
  • Selecting high quality, all weather furniture and fixtures
  • Landscaping with pots and plants
  • Adding lighting, signage and shade structures to a dining area
  • Building and maintaining a seasonal parklet

For more guidance and to apply for a permit to create an outdoor dining area, please contact the City of Norfolk's Department of City Planning at 757-664-4752 or planning@norfolk.gov. The City of Norfolk process can include the following:

  • Public Right of Way and Encroachment Process
  • Architectural Review Board
  • Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Permit

See the Guidelines.