NYC reveals outdoor dining plan ahead of Monday’s phase two reopening

June 18, 2020

Photo by Krisztina Papp on Unsplash

New York City is officially entering phase two of reopening on Monday. The news has led to questioning of the de Blasio administration as to their plan for outdoor dining, with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and others rallying for immediate action yesterday. In his press conference on Thursday, the mayor laid out details of the city’s Open Restaurants program that will allow restaurants to set up sidewalk seating and curb lane seating, convert adjacent parking spots into seating, utilize plaza seating through Business Improvement Districts, and, come July, add seating areas on streets currently closed to cars.

De Blasio said the city’s Open Restaurants program will help an estimated 5,000 restaurants and save roughly 45,000 jobs in the “greatest restaurant city in the world.” Acknowledging that the pandemic has hit the industry hard, he said the city’s main goal is to “make this a simple, fast, easy process.”

For restaurants and any bars/cafes that serve food, there are five outdoor seating options:

  • Curb lane seating (pilot through Labor Day): These are the adjacent parking spots to a restaurant’s curb
  • Sidewalk seating (through October)
  • Backyard and patio seating
  • Open streets seating (nights and weekends beginning in July): More details will be released in the coming days
  • Plaza seating through Business Improvement Districts: The BID would need to reach out to the city and apply

NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg joined de Blasio to lay out the rules for outdoor dining:

  • Sidewalk seating: Must maintain a clear path free from obstructions between the seating and the curb.
  • Curb lane seating: Roadway seating will not exceed length of business frontage, and be separated from the travel lane with a barrier (planters, barricades). “No standing anytime” curbs, bus stops, and curbs within 15 feet of a fire hydrant are not eligible.
  • Open streets: DOT will work with community groups and partner agencies to identify additional seating within full street closures in July.

The application for the Open Restaurants program is streamlined through a singular online portal. Moreover, restaurants will not need to do a separate application with the State Liquor Authority.

According to state guidelines, outdoor tables must be spaced six feet apart, staff must wear face coverings, and customers must also wear face coverings when not seated.

Indoor dining is permitted under phase three. Currently, seven of the state’s 10 regions–the North Country, Mohawk Valley, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Western New York, and the Capital Region–are in phase three. The Mid-Hudson Valley and Long Island are on track to enter phase three next week.

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on June 4, 2020, and has been updated with new information.


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