COVID-19 Sidewalk Cafe Expansion Grant

COVID-19 Sidewalk Café Expansion Grant

The COVID-19 Sidewalk Café Expansion Grant program is in response to the Mayor’s amended emergency order regarding bars and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant is aimed at assisting downtown bars and restaurants during this time with fixtures, furniture, and equipment (FFE) for additional outdoor pedestrian space through expansion of street-level sidewalk cafés.

The maximum amount of grant funding a business may receive, based on review and approval by a subcommittee appointed by the City of Rochester, is $2,000. Funds will be provided upfront and matching funds are not required.

Use of Grant Funds

Funds may be used towards the following items:

  • Lighting
  • Sidewalk café furniture
  • Umbrellas, awnings, or tents
    • Please note: these items may not display any branding or logos
  • Sidewalk café landscaping (plants, dirt, etc.)
  • Sidewalk café signage
  • Sidewalk café trash receptacles
  • ADA compliant ramps from sidewalks to street
  • Decals or other materials to mark out physical distancing
  • Labor to build any sidewalk café structures
  • Building materials (lumber, stain, paint, etc.)


  • The applying business must be located within the Special Services District (SSD).
  • Applicants must be approved for a Sidewalk Café permit by the City of Rochester City Clerk's Office.
  • Applicant must comply with all municipal and state codes and regulations; permitting must be secured prior to grant fund dispersal.
  • Grant applications will be approved between June 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020 (or as funding remains available).

How to Apply

  1. Before applying for the grant, please contact the City Clerk's office to apply for a Sidewalk Cafe Permit. Verification of an approved sidewalk cafe permit will be required prior to grant funds being dispersed.
  2. Review the COVID-19 Sidewalk Cafe Expansion Grant Guidelines for eligibility information.
  3. Apply online here or download the paper application here. Paper applications may be submitted to when completed. 
  4. Grant application period is open until July 31, 2020, or as funding remains available.
  5. If you are interested in building a structure with decking, first contact Molly Patterson-Lundgren, Heritage Preservation and Urban Design Coordinator with the City of Rochester, at or (507) 328-2956.


Questions and completed application materials for the COVID-19 Sidewalk Café Expansion Grant may be directed to Karli McElroy, Senior Director of Placemaking for the Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA) at or (507) 216-9882 between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.