New Outdoor Dining in Federal Hill, Including a Partially-Closed Cross Street

| July 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

As regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic have led to an increased demand for outdoor dining, Federal Hill has rolled out a lot of new spaces for patrons to dine al fresco. In the last couple of weeks the north side of the unit block of E. Cross St. has been closed to vehicular traffic for expanded outdoor dining, and parklets, which are outdoor dining spaces in place of on-street parking, have been added to Cross St., Charles St., and Light St.

The effort has been led by Federal Hill Main Street (FHMS) in partnership with Federal Hill restaurant owners, retailers, residents, and other stakeholders. FHMS received funding and support from the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, as well as pro-bono design from EDSA. It has also worked with The Neighborhood Design Center – Baltimore.

“We want to revitalize the neighborhood and get everyone slowly back on track from the impact of COVID-19,” said FHMS Executive Director Cathy Rosenbaum on’s SoBo Spotlight podcast.

A total of 18 restaurants and bars in Federal Hill are participating in the outdoor dining program on the street.

The unit block of E. Cross St. is split in half by Cross Street Market. The north side of the unit block of E. Cross St. is now closed to vehicular traffic. The entrance on Light St. has been blocked off with water-filled jersey barriers. Parklet dining areas have been set up next to the curb adjacent to the restaurants on the north side of street, as well as on the south side of the street up against Cross Street Market.

A traffic pattern has been set up for restaurants to get deliveries and for emergency and sanitation vehicles. Rosenbaum said FHMS was hoping to have the street open some of the time, but the Baltimore City Department of Transportation worried about cars parking on the street, not obeying signs, and having to move while there is a crowd full of people.

The south side of the unit block of E. Cross St. has remained open for vehicular traffic, but parklets have been added in front of some restaurants. Additional outdoor seating has also been added to Cross Street Market.

Parklet dining spaces have replaced parking spaces in front of some restaurants on Light St. and S. Charles St., both of which have maintained two-way traffic patterns. SoBo Cafe has added a paklet on the unit block of W. Cross St. The parklets are protected with the water-filled jerseys walls.

“We really want each restaurant to brand their space it make it their’s,” said Rosenbaum. Some restaurants have added planters and shade sails to the parklets.

When asked about the elimination of parking, which has always been important to local businesses, Rosenbaum said there will be added signage to the West Street Garage and she is encouraging businesses to have employees park outside of the core of the neighborhood.

Rosenbaum said there will be a Phase Two with street art, sidewalk art, string lighting, umbrellas, and permits for live music.

The permits for the expanded outdoor dining are in place until June 2021, unless all the COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants are lifted.

The City and state agencies have relaxed some of the regulations of outdoor seating and have streamlined the permits process in recent months. Rosenbaum said this process would have been very cumbersome and time sensitive during normal times.

“The goal is to use this as an opportunity to see if it is something everyone is really responsive to and to look at traffic impact studies. If we decide this is something we want to do permanently, we’ll put that permit process in place,” said Rosenbaum. “I think this is going to be really transformative for our neighborhood.”

Listen to the full interview here

Cross Street 

Charles Street 

Light Street

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Founder and Publisher of, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.