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266 New Al Fresco Dining Spots Have Now Been Approved For Sydney

By Tim Piccione
7th Sep 2021

Al fresco dining outside the Dolphin Hotel in Surry Hills

Sydney is entering a new era of al fresco dining—and things are really shaping up for the summer months ahead.

While we are a year-round good weather sort of city, getting permits for outdoor dining used to be an expensive red tape process afforded to only so few. Well, as we inch closer to life after this second lengthy lockdown, thanks to the City of Sydney things are going to look very different on the streets of Sydney. We're talking outdoor dining, drinking, and live music too. Did someone say hot vax summer?

Earlier this year, you might have noticed changes happening along city streets. A few select spots outside your favourite inner-city pubs, bars, and restaurants were transformed from parking spaces and sidewalks into licensed outdoor seating areas.

First launched in December 2020 as an experiment to help struggling businesses after Sydney's first lockdown, the City's al fresco dining initiative allows any cafe, bar, restaurant, or cultural venue to apply for a footpath dining permit or use car parking spaces for outdoor dining. That means more patrons and more business for our beloved hospitality venues—and more spacious and safe outdoor drinking and dining space for us when Sydney is back to its thriving and vibing self. So many wins.

Best of all, it was revealed in May that the council would waive all al fresco dining permit fees until June 2022, as well as fast-tracking any applications, pledging a big $5.7 million for permit activations.

As of this week, according to a spokesperson from the City of Sydney, 266 applications for al fresco dining have been approved across inner Sydney since the initiative was launched. Huge! Now, businesses with any outdoor dining space can also apply for approval to host live entertainment—that means some live music to accompany that sunset margarita and more general joy for Sydney streets.

A council survey of inner-city businesses with approved al fresco dining applications earlier this year found that 90% reported extended outdoor dining benefited their business, with 58% seeing a turnover increase of up to 10%.

“People have really embraced it, with participating businesses telling us they’ve taken on extra staff and seen increased patronage–a crucial aid to staying afloat in these difficult times,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore in May.

This financial investment aiming to boost and rejuvenate our city’s hospitality industry comes on top of the state government’s $20 million CBD Revitalisation program and announcements like the seven-day NYE party taking over the Cahill Expressway this year. It also continues to signal an entirely new governmental direction away from the days of Sydney’s lockout laws and consequently stifled nightlife.

While things still remain pretty uncertain, there’s at least plenty to be excited for when NSW hits those all-important double jab targets. Hang in there, Sydney. It’s almost happy hour.

Head here for more information and to apply for the City of Sydney Al Fresco Dining permit for your business.

Speaking of the great outdoors, check out Sydney's best parks for a picnic within your 5km

Image credit: City of Sydney

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