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Business Affairs & Consumer Protection

Sidewalk Cafes / Outdoor Patios

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In the City of Chicago, there are two types of outdoor seating areas that businesses can utilize.

Sidewalk Cafes are outdoor service areas that are situated on publicly owned sidewalks.  Sidewalk Cafe applications are established through ordinance via City Council and require Aldermanic approval,


You can download a sidewalk cafe application here.  

Outdoor Patios are found exclusively on private property.  Outdoor Patio licenses may be applied for directly with the Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection.

Access to Capital


Small Business Development Centers and the City's private partnerships can help entrepreneurs and small businesses access capital, through small business loans.

For more information on accessing small business loans, you can refer to this flier from the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, or by visiting their home page.

Loading / Standing Zones


In order to help facilitate the needs of local businesses, the City of Chicago offers Loading and Standing Zones. The minimum length is 20 feet, at an annual cost of $500, and $50 per each additional foot beyond that. 

The City offers 15 minute and 30 minute standing zones, as well as loading zones (30 minute maximum). Valet standing zones are also available.

Applications should be submitted to the local Alderman and then to the Chicago Department of Transportation, upon receipt of Aldermanic approval. 

You can obtain the application by following this link.

Renew Your Business License Online

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The City now has Chicago Business Direct, a new and improved site that combines all of your city license and tax needs in one place.

Business owners, and/or their legal representatives, may apply for City of Chicago business licenses, renew business licenses, file tax returns, and make tax payments online.

Small Business Expos & Free Workshops


Every Wednesday and Friday, BACP hosts free workshops at City Hall (Room 805, or 1103).  These workshops are held by City Officials, experts, and partner business organizations.

For upcoming small business expos and to learn more, click here.

For a calendar of free workshops, click here.

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