New York City unveils possible rules for future of outdoor dining

WABC logo
Thursday, October 19, 2023
NYC unveils possible rules for future of outdoor dining
Lauren Glassberg reports on New York City unveiling its draft rules for the future of outdoor dining.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City is unveiling its draft rules for the future of outdoor dining -- and as expected, fully enclosed dining structures, or street sheds, will not be allowed.

The rules will impact more than 13,000 restaurants across the five boroughs that are currently participating in the city's outdoor dining program.

Officials say the new program draws on lessons learned from the temporary outdoor dining program created during the COVID-19 pandemic which is credited for saving jobs but led to quality-of-life issues and complaints.

Some of the biggest complains included rats, pollution, congestion and noise.

The new version of the outdoor dining plan includes making structures more open to the elements.

The rules state street dining cafés cannot be fully enclosed, must be accessible for disabled New Yorkers and meet certain dimension parameters, based on their location.

Roadbed structures will be no longer than 40 feet or wider than 8 feet.

Permitted restaurants will serve food in sidewalk seating year-round, and on city roads for eight months starting April 1 and lasting until Nov. 29, according to city's new law.

Critics of the dining sheds don't necessarily think the new plan will help.

"They originally said they're going to get rid of the sheds but they just got rid of the roofs, the roofs aren't the problem, the problem is its structures on the curb," said Stu Waldman.

Restaurateur Mike Prisinzano said he spent about $50,000 for his shed outside Daddies on Hudson Street. It's heated and well-enclosed to be used in all kinds of weather -- but without a roof he says it will get much less use.

He said it will also be a problem when restaurants can only have them up from April to November.

"That's a huge issue, you got to take it down and you got to store it somewhere, right, so then we have to do a cost analysis," Prisinzano said.

Mayor Eric Adams said thanks to the updated program, outdoor dining can be a permanent fixture of New York City.

"Our vision for the program will be developed in close partnership with restaurant owners, diners, and communities, and I am confident it will be a win for our entire city," Adams said. "We are taking the lessons of the temporary pandemic-era program - what worked, what didn't, and what we can improve - and assemble the ingredients for the nation's largest and best outdoor dining program. This public engagement period will allow us to refine the recipe and deliver a delicious final product."

The proposed rules, created by the city DOT, will have a 30-day public comment and review period ahead of a public hearing.

ALSO READ | Animal Care Centers closed to dog surrenders due to critical capacity

Centers remain open for adoptions and will resume taking in dogs as soon as space opens up.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More New York City news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.