City: Philadelphia restaurants must have streetery permits by Jan. 9 to operate

Dining on the 1600 block of Sansom Street in Center City Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

File photo: Outdoor dining on the 1600 block of Sansom Street in Center City Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

This story originally appeared on 6abc

Philadelphia restaurants that want to operate with streeteries must be fully licensed to do so by Jan. 9.

Restaurant operators say the process is lengthy and confusing, leaving them worried about getting approval.

“First off, the process came after we were already operating streeteries for a couple of years, successfully,” said Sean McGranaghan, the Director of Operations for Winnie’s in Manayunk.

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According to the city, all unlicensed streetery setups must be removed by next week.

“Guests, the employees, the operators have been loving the streeteries, we want to see it continued,” explained Ben Fileccia, the Senior Director of Operations for the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association.

A city spokesperson says they’ve received 22 applications. So far, those applicants have been reviewed and issues that need to be addressed prior to approval have been sent back to the applicants.

No applications have been approved yet.

“I’m in the restaurant business. I need to know exactly what the recipe is. To be able to cook an item we need to know what the recipe is. We don’t know the exact recipe of this, there are a lot of vague and generalities,” McGranaghan explained.

Restaurants say the application process is lengthy and vague, so operators are struggling with paperwork to submit for approval. Fileccia says they are seeing three different rules in all of the documents.

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“Right now there’s a guidance page, there’s the law and there’s regulations; we’ve been seeing the rules being different in all three documents,” Fileccia said.

“Not being specific on what materials can be used; we have to submit these materials to the art commission, to L&I, but they didn’t get specific enough,” said McGranaghan.

The city says fewer streeteries are operating since the emergency outdoor dining program expired at the end of 2022. Operators we talked to say this is life or death for some restaurants.

“Some people live and die by it. I can tell you when we’re in season in Manayunk – in spring, summer, fall – there’s no better place to eat on the street,” said McGranaghan.

Operators say they’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars in expanding their operations safely.

“I would get your application in whether you are approved or not start the process if you haven’t. Reach out to PRLA if you need help, we have your back,” Fileccia said.

“Restaurant operators, we fuel the city, we employ so many people, we provide economic impact for a lot of different areas. We provide jobs. Help us,” McGranaghan pleaded.

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