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Unlicensed Philadelphia streeteries must be removed by Jan. 9

Streets Department: Unlicensed streeteries must be removed by Jan. 9
Streets Department: Unlicensed streeteries must be removed by Jan. 9 02:12

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia restaurants have until Monday, Jan. 9, to acquire a license for their streeteries or they must take down their outdoor dining setups, the Street Department said.

The Streets Department said they have received 22 applications so far. (Here's how to apply.)

It's a familiar site that stemmed from COVID-19. Streeteries helped keep businesses afloat.

Each restaurant crafted its own creative outdoor area and relied heavily on it.

"Just opened the restaurant nine months before the pandemic," Freddi Loka said. "If we didn't end up having this, we probably couldn't make it."

Ambrosia on South 24th Street put their own spin on their outdoor space, spending $65,000. It's equipped with heat and electricity, has its own sliding doors and helped double the amount of seating in the place.

Now, the city is requiring streeteries to apply for a new and approved license. Without it, the outdoor setups will need to be removed by Jan. 9.

Restaurants like Ambrosia are faced with the difficult decision to tear it down in the new year or spend more money to modify and rebuild it to fit new regulations.

"We hired an architect and he explained it to us, the rules and stuff," Loka said, "and we are still thinking."

The Streets Department says this program is intended to fit the restaurant scene without compromising fundamental aspects of urban life.

All streeteries will need to fit updated regulations, be compliant with state and federal laws and follow certain public safety measures in the public right of way.

The license will allow the set-ups to share public space with pedestrians and emergency services to name a few.

But restaurant owners are worried about the financial impact the permanent streetery changes will have on their future and on customers who relied on the set-ups for years.

"Most of our customers," Loka said, "they are not going to be happy either."

"Major thing. People are still scared," George Profi said, "and want to sit outside as you see today."

No applications have been approved yet.

The Streets Department says they are working with restaurants as they progress through the application process.

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