Press release

Outdoor Seating Popular and Growing in Center City

Reinforces image of a lively, thriving downtown

Linda K. Harris

PHILADELPHIA (September 2, 2015) – Since 2001 the number of food establishments in Center City with sidewalk seating increased 429%, from 69 in 2001 to 365 in the summer of 2015, according to a new report released today by the Center City District and the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation.

In the last year alone, there was a 12% increase in outdoor seating locations: 50% at full-service restaurants, 22% at sandwich and take-out locations, 11% at coffee shops, and 11% at non-food locations. Non-food establishments with outdoor seating are a relatively new trend and include cigar shops, hair salons, psychics, clothing stores and building plazas. They bring the total number of outdoor seating locations to 412 with the capacity to seat 6,056 individuals. 

“Outdoor seating attracts more patrons by blurring the boundary between inside and out. It expands seating capacity for businesses, enhances safety by adding more eyes on the street and reinforces the image of a thriving downtown,” said Paul R. Levy, President and CEO of the Center City District. “With cell-phone use, tablets, and laptops widely used, workers, residents, visitors and students can also work or network socially while enjoying the out of doors.”

The report is based on exclusive survey work conducted by the Center City District. 


The Center City District, a private-sector organization dedicated to making Center City Philadelphia clean, safe and attractive, is committed to maintaining Center City’s competitive edge as a regional employment center, a quality place to live, and a premier regional destination for dining, shopping and cultural attractions. Find Center City District at and on Facebook and Twitter.