- New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed Intro. 31-C into law on Wednesday, creating a permanent outdoor dining program called “Dining Out NYC,” the city announced in a press release.
- The program will allow restaurants to have sidewalk setups year-round and roadway setups from April through November.
- Dining Out NYC will not allow fully enclosed spaces, addressing previous concerns about sanitation and quality of life issues related to outdoor dining structures.
Under New York City’s temporary outdoor dining program, several restaurant owners were unable to maintain their largely unregulated outdoor dining setups. Several residents complained about rats, drug use and other issues with these structures. In August 2022, the city destroyed 24 neglected shelters that were part of restaurants that had shuttered.
The city said its previous program was instrumental in keeping restaurants going during the pandemic and saved 100,000 jobs. The new program will create more viable rules and regulations, however, the city said.
Under the new program, the Department of Transportation will “work with partner agencies to develop rules that will establish design requirements as well as siting, material, and operations guidance,” according to the press release. The rules will be available for public review in the fall. Restaurants participating in the current program will continue to operate with existing setups through the rest of the year and throughout the application process.
More on “Dining Out NYC”:
Fees: Rates vary by location and setup size
Requirements: Setups will need to be safe, accessible and easy to assemble and breakdown
Timing: Roadway setups will be allowed from April to November, but sidewalk setups are allowed year round
Source: Dining Out NYC
The permanent program calls for open-air dining setups that can break down or move easily. New rules will be finalized in early 2024, at which point the DOT will provide an online application portal where restaurants can apply. Outdoor dining setups will need to comply with the permanent design requirements within 30 days of application approval.
“The new law will cut the red tape and fees for restaurants to participate when compared to the overly restrictive pre-pandemic sidewalk café licenses, which excluded so many restaurants throughout the five boroughs from offering al fresco dining,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director, and Rob Bookman, counsel, of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. “We look forward to collaborating with the Department of Transportation and stakeholders on the design guidelines and additional details to address issues that are important to restaurants and the communities they serve.”
The success of this permanent program could hinge on consumer interest in outdoor dining, which has been impacted by smoke from wildfires and heat waves during the summer. Chains like Chuy’s and Cheesecake Factory saw a dropoff in outdoor dining during the summer, according to The Wall Street Journal. While record heat has largely impacted states like Texas, Arizona and much of the South, New York City was beset with some of the worst air quality in early summer due to the Canadian wildfires. Streeteries were also fairly empty in the city during the winter.