Resort Area Outdoor Café Franchise Program

Program Overview

The City of Virginia Beach's Café Franchise Program was established in 1985 at the request of the Resort Advisory Commission (RAC)  to introduce the opportunity for outdoor cafés to operate on City property in the Resort Area where they are feasible and appropriate. Outdoor cafés add vibrancy, attractiveness, and a welcoming ambiance conducive for shopping, dining, and leisure for both residents and visitors of the Resort Area.

Pursuant to Section 33-114.3 of the City Code, operation of outdoor cafés on public property require City Council approval. Operational and design development of these outdoor cafes are subject to the provisions of the Resort Area Outdoor Café Franchise Regulations, adopted by City Council on October 20, 2020.


To be eligible for a franchise agreement, an establishment must:

Fast food or casual establishments offering quick food service prepared and held for service and food generally served in disposable containers are not eligible. However, exceptions for fast food or casual establishments may be granted if they are Fully Certified Virginia Green Partner.

NOTE: Local businesses recognized as a Pearl Business by Lynnhaven River Now can apply to be recognized as a Virginia Green Partner without having to go through the Virginia Green certification process. This has been made possible through an established reciprocal agreement between the Virginia Green program and Lynnhaven River Now Pearl Business program.

Approval Process Overview

Step 1 – Preliminary Review & Application Submittal

Applications are encouraged to be submitted by the end of November to have sufficient time for full review and construction by May 1. Review and approval procedure will require a minimum of three months. No application shall be processed for the year in question if submitted after February 1.

NOTE: Construction is prohibited between May 1st and October 1st in the Resort Area. 

Step 2 – RAC and City Council Approval

Planning and Design Review Committee (PDRC) will review the proposed design and development of outdoor cafes and its site elements to ensure compatibility and conformance with requirements set forth in the Resort Area Outdoor Café Franchise Regulations.

After review, PDRC will forward the application package to RAC for approval. If supported, RAC will convey their approval for recommendation to City Council.

Step 3 – P&I and DSC Approval

Once the application package review is complete and supported by RAC and the SGA Office, the Applicant will be advised on further City review processes and permits needed for construction. The Applicant will submit project drawings (and associated fees) to the Planning Department's Permits and Inspections Office (P&I) and, if deemed necessary, to the Development Services Center (DSC). Permits will be held pending approval by City Council.

Step 4 – Construction and Final Inspection

Upon City Council approval and permit issuance, construction of the outdoor café may begin. After construction, a final inspection will be conducted by P&I and SGA Office to ensure compliance with the plan approved by City Council. After inspection and approval, the Applicant may then obtain their Certificate of Occupancy (CO) from P&I.