“Outdoor dining will be here forever,” Mayor Eric Adams exclaimed as he signed a bill on Wednesday that will extend curbside eating across the five boroughs.
Dubbed “Dining Out NYC,” Hizzoner permanently expanded outdoor dining across the city with the stroke of a pen by allowing any restaurant to purchase a permit for customers to eat outside of their establishment—whether on the curb or on the sidewalk. This comes after more than a year of negotiations between the Adams administration and the City Council, coupled with the restaurant industry and concerned residents weighing in. The mayor stated that the new program would resemble a scenic Paris street.
“We are not afraid to try something new and so those of us who have been in Paris, we are now outdoing it. You don’t have to leave New York anymore to enjoy it,” Adams said.
The big change will now allow these spaces to be set up across the five boroughs year-round on the sidewalk, while the curbside sheds will be permitted in the roadways from April to November. The fees for these permits will depend on the location and setup size in question.
The final rules as to the size and structure of the sheds that will be permitted have yet to be determined, although the law has created the framework. Many sheds, however, are likely to have to be pulled down when the new design specifications are determined. Furthermore, they have to be taken down seasonally.
Although Adams is touting the expansion as a major win for his leadership, not all restaurant owners are satisfied with the new law.
Several proprietors feel the cost to tear down the structures they have invested in is simply too steep, especially when they argue they are still suffering the financial strain dating back to the COVID-19 pandemic. Andrew Silverman, the operator of Penelope in Kips Bay, told amNewYork Metro that he spent between $3,000 and $4,000 to assemble his sheds.
Adams responded to these gripes by conceding that the plan is not perfect, but his administration and the council came to a “middle ground.”
“The 10-hour hearings, the zooms—we had to come to a sweet spot,” Adams said. “If we had an ideal way to do it, would it have been done differently? Yes, but that’s not the reality. We have to get a product that can function in a complex city like New York.”
Many restaurants, however, welcome the law. Owner of Queens’ historic Neir’s Tavern Loycent Gordon said the new law helps him and he will be able to complement his indoor business by seating patrons outside.
The city was very restrictive with outdoor dining pre-pandemic, with sidewalk seating only permitted in a limited number of neighborhoods due to zoning and high fees. Furthermore, roadside dining was prohibited.
“You didn’t have any in Rockaway, you didn’t have it in Brooklyn, you didn’t have it in Queens. You know, it was sort of centralized in Manhattan for the most part, but now we have five borough outdoor dining, the largest in the nation,” Adams said.
The bill was sponsored by New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez while the Department of Transportation will oversee the program and is expected to set up an online portal through which businesses can apply for a permit.