Visualization of Hypothetical Roadway Setup Under Proposed Rules for Dining Out NYC (Credit: New York City Department of Transportation)
Proposed Rules Offer Clear Guidance for Restaurant Owners, Prioritizing Equity and Expanding Access to Safe, Clean, Rat-Free Outdoor Dining in All Five Boroughs
With Launch of Outreach Plan, City Agencies Will Engage With Local Restaurants and Community Organizations
First Approved “Outdoor Dining NYC” Setups Expected on City Streets in Spring 2024
New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez took a major step forward to advance “Dining Out NYC” – the city’s permanent outdoor dining program and the largest in the country. Beginning today, the Adams administration is launching a public outreach and engagement campaign to solicit feedback on new proposed rules that will give restaurant owners and community members the clear guidance they need for outdoor dining to become a permanent, rat-free staple of the city’s streets. DOT – in partnership with the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) – will engage with the local restaurants, business organizations, trade associations, and community groups to solicit feedback on proposed rules for the program. The first approved Dining Out NYC setups are expected to hit New York City streets in spring 2024.
Dining Out NYC represents one of the most significant efforts of the last decade to reimagine the city’s streetscape to support all New Yorkers and small businesses, while creating vibrant public spaces that improve quality of life and continue to accelerate the city’s economic recovery. The new program draws on lessons learned from the temporary outdoor dining program created during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saved 100,000 jobs across the city but led to quality-of-life issues, as a subset of restaurant owners were unable to maintain loosely regulated outdoor dining setups.
“Outdoor dining saved 100,000 jobs in New York City during the pandemic and gave the five boroughs something New Yorkers had been craving for a long time, and now, thanks to this program, it is here to stay,” said Mayor Adams. “Our vision for the program will be developed in close partnership with restaurant owners, diners, and communities, and I am confident it will be a win for our entire city. We are taking the lessons of the temporary pandemic-era program – what worked, what didn’t, and what we can improve – and assemble the ingredients for the nation’s largest and best outdoor dining program. This public engagement period will allow us to refine the recipe and deliver a delicious final product.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor dining was permitted exclusively on the sidewalk, and almost only within Manhattan. Under Dining Out NYC, outdoor dining will be permitted year-round on the sidewalk and from April to November in the roadway. The new program creates an equitable, accessible fee structure for participating restaurants, with rates varying by location and setup size – and with significantly lower fees than existed under the previous sidewalk café program. For example, under the new program, a 100-square-foot sidewalk café in Lower Manhattan would cost about half as much on an annual basis than it did during the pre-pandemic sidewalk café program.
The proposed rules outline requirements for a safe, clean outdoor dining program, while providing restaurant owners with the flexibility to develop creative outdoor dining setups that are appropriate for their establishments. Proposed program rules include clear design requirements; siting criteria on where outdoor dining set-ups can be located in relation to other street features like subway entrances, fire hydrants, and more; and the types of materials that can be used in outdoor setups. They also require that the setups preserve clear sidewalk paths and emergency roadway lanes – include water-filled, rat-resistant protective barriers for roadway setups – and use easily moveable furniture and coverings. Ultimately, the proposed rules are designed to create a lighter-weight outdoor dining experience with lines of sight – as compared to the fully-enclosed shacks of the temporary, COVID-19-era program.
The proposed rules are subject to a 30-day public comment period and a public hearing before DOT publishes final adopted rules. DOT will review and consider all public feedback and expects to finalize and adopt program rules by the end of 2023. Once the new rules are adopted, DOT will launch an online application portal where restaurants can apply to participate in Dining Out NYC. A restaurant’s outdoor dining setup will need to comply with the program’s design requirements within 30 days of their application approval. On this timeline, the first approved Dining Out NYC setups will hit New York City and be on the street in spring 2024.
DOT, SBS, and other city agencies will conduct extensive public outreach to stakeholders to ensure that the city receives a wide range of feedback on the proposed rules. Members of the public can provide written comments on the proposed rules online or by attending a virtual public hearing online or by phone on Monday, November 20, 2023 at 10:00 AM. To sign up to speak at the hearing, email email@example.com.