A recently proposed bill to allow restaurant owners to provide their customers with outdoor seating all year long has been approved.
The office of the Mayor announced Friday, September 25 that the Open Restaurants program would now be made permanent.
“Open Restaurants was a big, bold experiment in supporting a vital industry and reimaging our public space. And it worked,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “As we begin a long-term recovery, we’re proud to extend and expand this effort to keep New York City the most vibrant city in the world. It’s time for a new tradition.”
Restaurants will now be able to expand their outdoor cafes to adjacent properties, as long as the landlords of these adjacent properties agree to to the use of their space. The Department of Transportation will issue a template and provide instructions for restaurant owners and landlords of adjacent properties to make the use of this space possible (nothing can be done, however, until these instructions and templates are released). NYC will also work with the State Liquor Authority so that patrons will be able to legally enjoy alcohol on these adjacent properties.
NYC will also allow restaurants to place electrical heaters in their sidewalk cafes and on the street. Propane and natural gas heaters will be allowed only on sidewalks, and propane heaters will require permits from the FDNY.
NYC restaurant owners will also be able to use enclosed tents to keep their customers warm. “In partial tent enclosures, at least 50% of the tent’s side wall surface area must remain open and electrical heaters are allowed. In full tent enclosures, the tent’s side walls may be closed but occupancy limitations will be capped at 25% of capacity, and indoor dining guidelines must be followed; electrical heaters will also be allowed. Enclosed structures, such as plastic domes, will be allowed for individual parties and must have adequate ventilation to allow for air circulation.”
NYC will also be looking into creating stronger roadway barriers to ensure safety during the winter months.
This news comes as a sigh of relief to the NYC restaurant industry. While indoor dining is set to return on September 30, it will only be at a 25% capacity, which many restaurant owners have feared will not yield enough revenue to survive.