NYC Council votes to make outdoor dining permanent, with new rules

Outdoor dining is here to stay, having been given the green light by the New York City Council. However, there are rules restaurants will have to follow.

Restaurants will only be able to serve outdoors between 10 a.m. and Midnight. Permit fees will be based on location and square footage of the restaurant and those fees are higher for restaurants below 125th Street in Manhattan.

"This bill is a culmination of bringing everyone to the table and creating a uniform program that considers the unique circumstances in each borough and neighborhood," said Bronx City Council member Marjorie Velazquez, who sponsored the bill.

The bill also determined the fate of the outdoor sheds that were put into place during the pandemic by restaurant owners to help keep their businesses afloat when dining inside was not permitted or restricted.

The "shed" type structure will have to be dismantled and replaced with something less obstructive. More decidedly, eating in the city's roadways will only be allowed 8 months out of the year between April and the end of November to exclude the winter months.

"This allows the city to do plowing, cleaning, and other maintenance work as needed on the street. I think it's also really important to know that we know the roadway design guidelines. We want them to be improving and enhancing the pedestrian and streetscape experience," said Ya-Ting Liu, the city's Chief Public Realm Officer.

Liu says design guidelines will likely be similar in concept to sidewalk cafe eating which also netted a major win for the outer boroughs. Once primarily limited to Manhattan, that is no longer the case. Sidewalk dining will now be allowed year-round.

"What this legislation does is really expands the program, both sidewalk and roadway, and creates an affordable price point so that restaurants in all four five boroughs have an opportunity to participate both in the sidewalk and the roadway program," Liu added.

The Department of Transportation will be in charge of permitting and enforcing the guidelines.