NYC Council considers making outdoor dining structures permanent

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, May 19, 2023
NYC Council considers making outdoor dining permanent
It is looking more and more like outdoor dining in New York City is here to stay. Crystal Cranmore has the story.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The biggest challenges to outdoor dining before the pandemic were cost, red tape in the application process, and zoning restrictions in the outer boroughs.

However, that's not the case anymore thanks to an updated version of a bill that stalled in council more than a year ago.

City Council is proposing a measure that would allow businesses to license outdoor structures and make them permanent.

Under the plan, roadway sheds would be permitted from April to November, while sidewalk tables would be allowed year-round.

Mayor Eric Adams released a statement saying, "The temporary Open Restaurants program saved 100,000 jobs and countless local restaurants at the height of the pandemic, while helping the city reimagine its public spaces. It also left hundreds of abandoned sheds on our streets that have become havens for rats and eyesores for New Yorkers. For months, I have been saying loud and clear that outdoor dining is here to stay and we need to get it right. Our administration has been working tirelessly with Speaker Adams, Council Member Velázquez, and all of our partners in the City Council to craft this program, and today, we are one big step closer to delivering it. With this bill, we will create a permanent, year-round outdoor dining program that will support our small businesses, create jobs for New Yorkers, and keep our streets and communities vibrant. We will continue to move this program forward urgently to give restaurant owners and communities the clarity and support they deserve."

Andrew Rigie, Executive Director, NYC Hospitality Alliance said in a statement, "We're thrilled the Mayor and City Council have agreed to terms for an historic permanent outdoor dining program that includes sidewalk cafes and streeteries. 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. We look forward to working through the additional details of the program with the city to address issues that are important to restaurants and the communities they serve, but in the meantime, New Yorkers should go out and celebrate with a meal at an outdoor café!"

There are just under 13,000 (12,993) Restaurants participating in NYC DOT's Open Restaurant Program.

The city council is expected to vote on the bill next month.

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