Outdoor dining to transform Melbourne

In a move that could transform Melbourne’s food and coffee culture for generations to come, the City of Melbourne and the Victorian Government will support businesses to expand their outdoor trading onto footpaths, carparks, streets, and laneways.

There are currently 2390 cafés and restaurants in the City of Melbourne, however only 800 venues have outdoor dining permits. A program is now open to support businesses to extend their trading further.

“We expect outdoor dining to be so popular with patrons this summer that it will become a permanent feature of our city for generations to come. We encourage business owners to keep coming forward with ideas because we want to see our cafés, restaurants and retail stores thriving again. We will endeavour to do everything we possibly can to assist our businesses to reopen and begin trading once restrictions lift,” City of Melbourne CEO Justin Hanney says.

“It’s important that the outdoor dining spaces are high quality and are inviting. To achieve this, we will support businesses to install bollards, planters and barriers. Businesses will be responsible for furniture such as chairs and tables and fast grants are available to assist cash-strapped traders.”

The government expects changes, that will be made to support outdoor dining over the coming months, to transform Melbourne’s outdoor dining culture to rival other great cities around the world.

The City of Melbourne will treat each application on a case-by-case basis to ensure safety and amenity is maintained for patrons, residents, businesses, and pedestrians.

The outdoor dining program will provide temporary permits for eligible venues to:

  1. Expand onto footpaths
  2. Take over on-street car parking space (green signs) immediately outside their business
  3. Join with neighbouring businesses to take over sections of on-street car parking, footpaths and (in some cases) street space. Six key dining precincts have been identified: Bourke Street East; Russell Street; Lygon Street Carlton; Errol Street North Melbourne; Domain Road South Yarra; and Bellair Street Kensington. Traders can also work with the government to identify alternative locations.
  4. Join with neighbouring businesses to expand into a laneway adjacent to their business.

For venues that don’t have outdoor dining, there are options available to assist these establishments to continue to trade.

From today, city businesses can apply for grants of up to $10,000 to extend dining onto footpaths, streets, and laneways. Permits are free and a new guide to outdoor dining is available to support businesses seeking to extend their outdoor trading.

Grants of up to $10,000 are available for the following City of Melbourne businesses:

  • Hospitality businesses to support temporary outdoor dining and reopening
  • Small and medium-sized businesses in any industry for:
    • COVID-safe remodelling and conversions
    • COVID-safe equipment and infrastructure
    • Staff training and development activities to adapt to a COVID-19 operating environment
    • Marketing and promotion.

These programs are part of the $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund being delivered together with the Victorian Government.

“This support is a vital part of our recovery plan for Melbourne and Victoria,” says Minister for Industry Support and Recovery Martin Pakula.

“Cash to back business initiatives and a can-do attitude from the council will help to bring people back into the heart of the city.”

The grants will be announced in two rounds – on 23 October and 6 November. This will provide early applicants with a timely response, while also accommodating business that may need the full four-week application period to develop their plans and proposals.

The grants are open until 11.59pm on 23 October 2020 via the City of Melbourne grants page. 

Businesses are encouraged to contact the Business Concierge Service on 9658 9658 for information and support in applying for these programs.