U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

City of Cambridge Announces Street Changes to Increase Outdoor Dining Options

caution sign The information on this page may be outdated as it was published 3 years ago.

The City of Cambridge has worked closely with Cambridge Local First, the Central Square Business Improvement District, East Cambridge Business Association, Harvard Square Business Association (HSBA), Kendall Square Association, and restaurants across the City to identify opportunities for the City to support restaurants by creating additional space for outdoor dining. This work expands on the outdoor dining spaces that previously existed in Cambridge before COVID-19 and is made possible by increased flexibility in the State’s rules relative to permitting outdoor dining areas. 


At permitted locations across the city, restaurants will be responsible for providing tables and chairs according to social distancing guidelines and sectioning off their outdoor dining areas each day. Due to liquor license requirements and to ensure that the tables are cleaned between each use, these new outdoor dining areas will be designated for use by the adjacent restaurants. Where possible, the outdoor dining areas may be used for loading or parking when they are not being used for dining.


“The City is working closely with restaurants to make flexible use of public space in order to expand opportunities for outdoor dining,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “As we have done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we will to continue to support our local businesses as much as we can, while protecting the health and welfare of our residents, visitors, and workforce.”


In Central Square, a new outdoor dining area will be created on the southwest side of Massachusetts Ave. between Norfolk St. and Brookline St. In Harvard Square, outdoor dining areas will be implemented on Brattle St., between Eliot St. and Church St; on Palmer St. (which already operates a Shared Street); and on Bow St., between DeWolfe St. and Plympton St.


In Inman Square, on Cambridge St., from Springfield St. to Prospect St., street space will be reallocated to create new outdoor dining areas and back-in angled parking. As a result of these changes, Cambridge St. will be one-way in the westbound direction (towards Harvard) for motor vehicles. Eastbound motor vehicles will be directed to use a detour route of Hampshire St. and Prospect St. The City is still working with the MBTA to finalize information about the changes to bus stops for Route 69 passengers traveling towards Lechmere. People walking and biking may continue to go in both directions on Cambridge St., as will emergency vehicles.


All of these changes have been reviewed by the City’s public safety departments, and have also been coordinated with the License Commission, the Inspectional Services Department, the Law Department, the Department of Public Works, and other key stakeholders.


In addition to these more significant changes, the City is in the process of reviewing and approving dozens of additional applications for expanded outdoor dining on sidewalks and in parking lanes. Restaurants may begin using these spaces as soon as their permits are approved, and they are able to get their outdoor dining set up.


More information about these changes and other street changes that are being implemented in response to COVID-19 may be found at www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/streets.

Page was posted on 6/22/2020 7:21 PM
Page was last modified on 7/25/2023 12:34 AM
Contact Us

How can we help?

Please provide as much detail below as possible so City staff can respond to your inquiry:

As a governmental entity, the Massachusetts Public Records Law applies to records made or received by the City. Any information received through use of this site is subject to the same provisions as information provided on paper.

Read our complete privacy statement

Service Requests

Enter a service request via SeeClickFix for things like missed trash pickups, potholes, etc., click here