As you know, the NYC Hospitality Alliance has been advocating to make outdoor dining permanent, to allow the use of heat lamps to keep customers warm outside during the cooler months, and to allow restaurants to utilize adjacent space where feasible so they can accommodate more guests and generate much needed revenue. And today, we're proud Mayor de Blasio has announced that policies are forthcoming to make all of this permissible.
Here are some VERY IMPORTANT details:
- Open Restaurants program (sidewalk and roadway outdoor dining) will be made permanent.
- Expand seating to the frontage of adjacent properties, as long as the adjacent property owners formally agree to the use of the space for a specified period of time and a commitment not to charge a fee for its use.
The City will be coming out with guidance for stronger, sturdier restaurant setup requirements in the coming week. We are working closely with DOT on this guidance and strongly urge you not to invest in new expanded space until this guidance has been issued.
- DOT will be issuing application forms that will need to be filled out in order to expand to the adjacent space. Restaurants should not expand to the adjacent space until the forms are completed. If you expand prior to filing out the forms, your setups will be subject violations as well as removal.
- Electrical heaters will be allowed on both sidewalk and roadway. Propane and natural gas heaters will be allowed on sidewalks only; they will remain prohibited in roadway seating. More guidance on heaters will be coming out in the coming days. We also strongly urge you to not set up heating systems that may not comply with DOB and FDNY requirements.
Restaurants will also be permitted to use tent enclosures to keep diners 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.
This is all very good news for our industry. The NYC Hospitality Alliance will be working closely with Mayor de Blasio's administration and City Council on all the details of the program, which will be released in the near future. As we explained above, please do not make any of these changes until all the requirements are final. We will let you know when they are.
The NYC Hospitality Alliance provided this quote, which was included in Mayor de Blasio's press release:
"Outdoor dining has transformed New York City's streetscape for the better and has been a critical lifeline for thousands of small businesses and jobs throughout the five boroughs during the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank and look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio's administration and the City Council on rolling out this incredibly important expansion of the popular Open Restaurants program." Andrew Rigie, Executive Director and Robert Bookman, Counsel, New York City Hospitality Alliance