A sidewalk cafe (sometimes called a pavement cafe, or patio) is an outdoor part of a coffeehouse or cafe. This is an area where customers go to relax, dine, and socialize. Other activities at a sidewalk cafe might include studying, reading, or using, if it is available, the cafe's internet access.
Many people who frequent sidewalk cafes, do so for the comfortable and quaint atmosphere. Typically in a sidewalk cafe there are tables and chairs [and sometimes benches] for dining and relaxing. Sometimes they are permanently outside, however they are often taken inside on closing time, or earlier if it gets colder. Usually there are parasols depending on the style and decor of any particular sidewalk cafe and there may be a low fence around it for protection against wind and/or for the purpose of decoration.
Fast food restaurants such as McDonald's also often have an outdoor dining area, thus making them sidewalk cafes.
Cafes where food is the main attraction usually are for dining, entertainment, and meetings, both business and casual. A cafe where coffee is the main attraction is usually for socializing, internet, reading, studying, entertainment, and dining. There are several types of cafes and venues as well as types of people that frequent these places for different activities.
Depending on the country and on permits alcohol may or may not be served. In some places local laws allow drinking alcohol in a sidewalk cafe but not on a public bench etc.
Typically a cafe or restaurant needs a permit from the municipality to have an outdoor part. This will not be granted if due to lack of space there is too much inconvenience for passers-by. The municipality may restrict the opening hours for the outdoor part.