• Jacque Coe

King County issues more guidance on adding outdoor seating and best practices

King County has issued modified guidance containing best practices for dining service and to ensure restaurants know they can add additional outdoor seating with the appropriate permits, as long as they operate under Phase 2 guidance. King county restaurants received welcome news June 5th with the approval of a modified Phase 1 reopening, allowing indoor dining at 25% capacity and outdoor dining at 50% capacity.

Restaurants offering limited dining under the ‘Phase 1.5’ plan must operate under all of the Phase 2 reopening criteria. Further, King County recommends restaurants expanding or adding new outdoor seating follow these best practices:

  • Each table must receive all services from one individual server. Allow only one or two servers total to provide table services to all the customers seated at the outdoor tables.

  • To minimize foot traffic within the food establishment, take orders from customers who are seated outside.

  • Food establishments that share common walls with adjacent restaurants need to set up their outdoor seating so that they are more than six feet apart or separated by a physical barrier. Physical barriers may be needed in other areas as well to maintain separation from public right-of-ways and other public areas. Please consult with your local municipality on what types of physical barriers are allowed.

  • Use outdoor tables for customers who will most likely stay longer.

  • Provide utensils that are protected from environmental contamination such as flatware wrapped in cloth napkins, glassware provided at time of service rather than pre-setting tables.

An outdoor seating permit may be required for expanding or creating a new outdoor seating area on private property or public right-of-way. Obtain the appropriate outdoor seating permit from your local municipality if you are expanding or creating new outdoor seating.

  • There are 39 cities in King County. Each municipality has purview over local sidewalk, street access and permitting. Please check with your city to determine if a permit is required to dine outside.

  • Seattle Sidewalk permits can be found here

  • LCB sidewalk permits require a form found here. Send sidewalk café service forms to liquoralterations@lcb.wa.gov.

  • For Seattle sidewalk cafés on private property, contact the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections at (206) 684-8850

To see the full guidance from King County, click here.

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