Mayor Eric Adams’ administration and the City Council has reached a deal on a bill to allow year-round outdoor dining in New York City while placing limits on polarizing pandemic-style street eating.
Under the agreement, which came after months of haggling, outdoor restaurant dining would be permitted on sidewalks year-round and on city roads from spring to fall — a total of eight months per year.
Permanent dining structures would not be allowed to take up street space during the chilly winter months.
Adams said in a statement that the city’s COVID-19-era outdoor dining program rescued 100,000 jobs and myriad restaurants, but also “left hundreds of abandoned sheds on our streets that have become havens for rats and eyesores.”
“With this bill,” the mayor added, “we will create a permanent, year-round outdoor dining program that will support our small businesses, create jobs for New Yorkers, and keep our streets and communities vibrant.”
Councilwoman Marjorie Velazquez, the Bronx Democrat who is the lead sponsor of the bill, said the agreement followed dialogue with patrons, business owners and city agencies.
The new deal will ensure an outdoor dining regime that continues to “serve our restaurants, residents, and visitors,” Velazquez said in a statement.
The Transportation Department would oversee enforcement and licensing under the proposed program. A point of contention in the negotiations was which city agency would lead oversight.
Restaurants would pay smaller fees for the right to offer outdoor dining than they did before COVID-19, according to the Council.
The reach of the city’s outdoor dining program spread widely beyond Manhattan during the pandemic.
About 12,000 restaurants now participate in the outdoor dining program, up from around 1,000 before COVID-19, according to the Council.
The proposed future framework drew swift praise from the NYC Hospitality Alliance, an association representing restaurants.
“We’re thrilled,” Andrew Rigie, the group’s executive director, and Rob Bookman, its counsel, said in a joint statement. “New Yorkers should go out and celebrate with a meal at an outdoor cafe!”
If the legislation is approved, the next step is a rule-making process to determine what kind of structures would be allowed — another possible source of contention.