City Takes Major Steps to Advance ‘Dining Out NYC’

City Takes Major Steps to Advance ‘Dining Out NYC’

By Forum Staff

Mayor Eric Adams, City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, and Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu on Friday released the final rules for the City’s permanent outdoor dining program, “Dining Out NYC.”

Offering guidance for restaurant owners as they work to create new set-ups before the program’s launch next month, the final rules prioritize equity, expanding access to safe, clean outdoor dining in all five boroughs.

Friday’s released final rules outline requirements for a safe, clean outdoor dining program, while providing restaurant owners with the flexibility to develop creative outdoor dining setups that are appropriate for their establishments. Final program rules include clear design requirements; siting criteria on where outdoor dining setups can be located in relation to other street features, like subway entrances, fire hydrants, and more; and the types of materials that can be used in outdoor setups. They also require that the setups preserve clear sidewalk paths and emergency roadway lanes — including water-filled, rat-resistant protective barriers for roadway setups —– and use easily moveable furniture and coverings. Ultimately, the final rules will create a lighter-weight outdoor dining experience with lines of sight, as compared to the fully-enclosed shacks of the temporary, COVID-19-era program.

Before 2020, outdoor dining in Gotham was permitted exclusively on the sidewalk, and almost only within Manhattan. Under Dining Out NYC, outdoor dining will be expanded citywide, permitted year-round on the sidewalk and, from April 1 to Nov. 29, in the roadway. The new program creates an equitable, accessible fee structure for participating restaurants, with rates varying by location and setup size as codified by local law, and with significantly lower fees than those under the previous sidewalk café program. In the pre-pandemic program, run by the City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, sidewalk cafés south of 96th Street in Manhattan paid $40 per square foot, while the rest of the city paid $30. The new program expands eligibility to more parts of the city and significantly reduces fees for cafes everywhere, with cafes outside Manhattan and above 125th Street paying 67- to 80-percent less, and cafes below 125th Street in Manhattan paying 22- to 75-percent less.

With the rules now finalized, in March, DOT will launch a streamlined online application portal where restaurants can apply to participate in Dining Out NYC. A restaurant’s outdoor dining setup will need to comply with the program’s design requirements within 30 days of their application approval. On this timeline, the first approved Dining Out NYC setups will hit streets across the five boroughs in the summer of 2024. DOT will notify all restaurants now participating in the temporary program to submit applications for the permanent program through an extensive in-person and digital outreach campaign. Restaurants that did not participate in the temporary Open Restaurants Program are also welcome to apply for Dining Out NYC.

“Outdoor dining saved thousands of restaurants and 100,000 jobs during the pandemic, while creating a more social and economically vibrant streetscape,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director, and Robert Bookman, counsel, New York City Hospitality Alliance.


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