Restaurant reopening and sidewalk dining permits: helping small businesses get back to work
Catherine Geanuracos
September 16, 2022

Restaurant reopening and sidewalk dining permits: helping small businesses get back to work

As communities reopened after COVID quarantine measures, Health Departments and restaurants across the country needed to negotiate new procedures, protections and processes.

Here are two examples of how governments used ClearForms workflows to help their restaurants reopen safely:

Sidewalk and Private Property Outdoor Dining Permit: City of Los Angeles, LA Al Fresco, Cities of Santa Monica and West Hollywood, CA and City of Chelsea, MA

Restaurants operate on slim margins, and if they're held to 60% of their dining capacity  (as LA County's 2020 guidance required) it will be challenging for many of them to stay in business. It's essential that businesses can operate outside, where many people feel more comfortable eating. Governments from Chelsea, Massachusetts to The City of Los Angeles have created new options for restaurants to use sidewalks, parking spaces, private parking lots, and streets for expanded outdoor dining (in LA's case, including alcohol service). LA's Department of Transportation and Mayor's Office used CityGrows to automatically issue hundreds of LA Al Fresco permits over the weekend the application was first available.

We've also launched similar workflows for Santa Monica and West Hollywood, CA. Like all ClearForms (formerly CityGrows) workflows these outdoor dining permits were set up and launched by non-technical City staff. Online applications, online review, and customized, downloadable printable licenses are all standard features of ClearForms. Working from home, staff are able to review, approve, communicate with applicants, respond to questions and request clarifications, all within the ClearForms application.

We can get a sidewalk/ outdoor dining permit launched for your government in just a few days because we can easily copy and then customize our existing permit workflows.

Food Facility Reopening Guidance: Erie County, PA.

As counties in Pennsylvania were cleared to move from Yellow to Green status and reopened on-premises dining, the number of new requirements and procedures felt overwhelming to business owners. Erie County's Environmental Health Services team wanted a way to clearly communicate how businesses should prepare to welcome customers back for dining. They were able to quickly set up, test, and launch their Food Facility Reopening Guidance workflow. It helps businesses understand exactly what they need to do, develop a specific reopening plan, and allows the Health Department to provide guidance and feedback. It's optional for businesses, but many are finding the specific step-by-step overview and ability to download a written, personalized plan at the end of the process invaluable.

We could not be prouder to be helping local businesses and the restaurants we love in communities across the country reopen safely.

How can you use ClearForms to help your local restaurants? Get in touch with us and find out!

Catherine Geanuracos

Catherine is the CEO and a Co-Founder of ClearForms. She's dedicated to supporting local governments and helping them improve outcomes for their residents and staff members. She is a former VP of the City of Los Angeles Innovation and Performance Commission and co-founder of LA's Code for America Brigade Hack for LA. She's based in Los Angeles.

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