Popular “Open Restaurants” program to be made permanent
Restaurants permitted to use heating and enclosures, and expand seating to adjacent properties with neighbors’ consent
As part of New York City’s Recovery Agenda, Mayor de Blasio today announced the City’s popular Open Restaurants program, which has enrolled more than 10,300 establishments since its inception in June, will be extended year-round and made permanent. The extension also applies to Open Streets: Restaurants, which currently offers restaurants expanded space on 85 car-free streets citywide on certain days.
The announcement comes one day after the mayor put forward an agenda for New York City’s long-term recovery, which focuses on keeping New Yorkers safe and healthy, while making NYC the public health capital of the nation to help bring back the city’s economy. The Open Restaurants program has already saved an estimated 90,000 jobs citywide.
“Open Restaurants was a big, bold experiment in supporting a vital industry and reimaging our public space. And it worked,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “As we begin a long-term recovery, we’re proud to extend and expand this effort to keep New York City the most vibrant city in the world. It’s time for a new tradition.”
"The Open Restaurants program has changed New York City's streetscape over these last several months, and now this Administration will work to make that permanent," said Deputy Mayor for Operations Laura Anglin. "The program has helped save tens of thousands of jobs and has been an essential lifeline to an industry that has faced enormous hardships during this pandemic. And as we extend outdoor dining into the winter months we will work closely with restaurants to ensure the correct heating systems are put in place to keep customers and themselves safe."
"Restaurants are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods, and seeing them opening back up on our sidewalks and streets has cheered all of us," said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been. "Continuing Open Restaurants and Open Streets will allow our streets to pulse with energy into the cooler season, keep people working, boost everyone’s spirits, and help drive our economic recovery."
“Because this popular program has developed into one of the few bright spots in the pandemic, we are excited that Open Restaurants, a creative new vision of public space, will be made permanent and year-round,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “As we move into the colder months, we will join our sister agencies and the City Council to come up with clear guidance – working closely with the restaurant industry, continuing to make sure that we are of course driven by safety first.”
“Outdoor dining has been a huge success, enlivening our commercial corridors and providing businesses with a much-needed opportunity to generate further revenue while social distancing,” said Jonnel Doris, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “This program becoming a mainstay allows patrons to continue supporting their favorite neighborhood establishments and allows restaurants to safely expand their dining options.”
“New York’s recovery offers us an opportunity to try out and then expand on what works and what makes our city better, fairer and stronger. Open Restaurants and Open Streets are ongoing and successful experiments. They are bringing the kind of buzz, economic activity — and even joy — we so desperately need,” said Department of City Planning Executive Director Anita Laremont.
"New Yorkers look out for each other in a crisis, and it is our job to serve the public by helping implement creative solutions that keep businesses running during these unprecedented times," said Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca. "The success of the Open Restaurants program demonstrates resiliency of our communities, and there’s no reason that should end because of the changing seasons. We look forward to being part of the solution and partnering with restaurant owners to ensure their outdoor spaces are heated safely so the city can continue to enjoy its vibrant dining culture.”
“Extending Open Restaurants year-round and making the program a permanent New York City fixture will help revitalize neighborhoods and the economy while putting the health and safety of New Yorkers first,” said James Patchett, President and CEO of New York City Economic Development Corporation. “The program allows people and small businesses rather than cars to use our curbside lanes. This all means more public space for New Yorkers and a healthier, more walkable city.”
“Very happy for every business, every patron and every New Yorker who has helped make outdoor dining a permanent success,” said Ariel Palitz, Senior Executive Director of the Office of Nightlife at the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. “While there is much more work to do for the nightlife industry at large, the thousands of restaurants and bars moving into the street has created a new café culture that is working to preserve livelihoods and neighborhoods in the face of a pandemic in invincible New York City.
The City will allow restaurants to 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 commit not to charge a fee for its use. The City will work with the State Liquor Authority on any requirements associated with extending alcohol service to the expanded seating in front of adjacent properties. In early October, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) will issue a template agreement and provide instructions on how to file the agreements. Adjacent properties may not be used prior to the release of official instructions and formal agreements.
As cooler weather arrives, the City will allow restaurants to incorporate heating elements into their outdoor dining setups. 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. Propane will require a permit from FDNY and compliance with FDNY regulations for outdoor use, handling and secure outdoor tank storage overnight. Official guidance on what will be considered approved installation and use of heating elements will be released before the end of September, and restaurants are prohibited from installing heating elements until guidelines are released and followed.
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.
As the program’s duration will now continue through the winter months, and winter weather creates potential for inclement weather to impact road conditions, the City will engage the restaurant industry and other stakeholders to develop additional safety features to further strengthen roadway barriers. To ensure timely implementation, the City will require restaurant owners to comply with new safety features by November 15, 2020. In addition, significant snow events may necessitate the temporary removal of some barriers from the roadway.
The City will work with the City Council to make the regulatory changes necessary to make the program permanent.
“Outdoor dining has been one of the major successes of the past few months, and the Council is proud to have led the charge to make this common-sense measure permanent. We are grateful Mayor de Blasio heard our calls and is taking action on this important issue. Lots of cities throughout the world have permanent outdoor dining, and it is time to bring it to New York City. Our restaurants need a lot of help and the Council will continue doing all we can to support them,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.