Should outdoor dining structures be permanent? City Council to decide

The additional outdoor dining structures that were erected as a remedy to keep restaurants afloat during the pandemic could soon become a more permanent sight in the city.

"I would guess half the restaurants in the city would have been gone by now if it wasn't for the structures, cabanas, tents," said one restaurant owner.


The alfresco dining set-ups seen across the city, on sidewalks, and along curbs often take up precious parking real estate. 

"I can't even get to my apartment. If I’m lucky, I can get to the curb if I’m being dropped off," said one New Yorker. 

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And now there is a chance the structures are here to stay without penalty. 

On Monday, the City Planning Commission unanimously voted to remove zoning prohibitions against sidewalk cafes. This means these outdoor dining structures can be something more permanent to the dining landscape in New York City. 

That is if the City Council approves it.

In the meantime, Executive Director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance Andrew Rigie, is pleased.

"Since its inception, Open Restaurants has saved more than 100,000 industry jobs and countless small businesses from financial collapse, and this ‘yes’ vote is a critically important first step towards developing a sustainable future for this very popular program," said Rigie.

But not everyone is pleased. The New York Post reports about 8,550 parking spots have been eaten up by the Open Restaurants program. 

Other complaints include the program attracting more rats and other quality-of-life issues.