NYC capping fees for outdoor dining program

The New York City Council is planning on setting a fee cap for restaurants hoping to participate in the soon-to-be-unveiled, outdoor dining program.

Those in the restaurant industry say the fee limit is a big win, especially for smaller establishments that relied on outdoor dining to stay afloat during the pandemic.

"This was an incredibly successful program during the pandemic. It helped save thousands of restaurants. Credited with saving about 100,000 jobs throughout the five boroughs. So now we need to transition to a permanent program," said Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance.

Rigie says the city council is moving in the right direction, as before the pandemic, sidewalk café licenses were so costly, they excluded too many smaller restaurants.

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"It would have been about $12,000 a year, just for the sidewalk," said Dudley Stewart, co-owner of The Queensboro in Jackson Heights. 

Stewart told FOX 5 NY that outdoor dining area was a lifesaver for their business. 

"This outdoor seating area pretty much saved us during the pandemic. We would have closed if it hadn’t been for this," Stewart said.

Restaurant owners will pay different fees depending on the location. Queens, for example, will be a bit cheaper than renting the sidewalk in Upper Manhattan.

Mayor Eric Adams has said the final outdoor dining program will address other concerns people have had with the spaces, like sanitary and safety issues, but those details haven’t been finalized yet.