Mayor Signs Outdoor Dining Bill, Announces Next Steps

The new logo for Dining Out NYC, the city’s new permanent outdoor dining program. Image Credit: New York City Mayor’s Office.

On August 16, 2023, Mayor Eric Adams signed Int. 31-C, establishing a permanent outdoor dining program. The permanent program, now called “Dining Out NYC,” allows for permanent sidewalk dining year-round and roadway dining seasonally from April to November. 

The temporary outdoor dining program established at the start of the pandemic allowed restaurants to skip the extensive sidewalk cafe approval process to allow for safe option for outdoor dining. However, as the temporary program was created based on emergency executive orders, a permanent program needed to be established. To establish the permanent program, changes needed to be made to the zoning text to remove restrictions on where outdoor dining could take place, the City Council needed to pass legislation moving the authority to operate an outdoor dining program to the Department of Transportation, and impacted city agencies needed to pass agency rules to lay out how the program would operate. 

The zoning text changes were approved in February 2022, and the City Council passed the necessary legislation with Int. 31-C. In addition to establishing the outdoor dining program, the bill outlines that permanent structures like the roadway dining sheds would not be allowed, and that only removable furniture may be used. For CityLand’s past coverage, click here

With the signing of Int. 31-C and the launch of Dining Out NYC, the Department of Transportation and other impacted city agencies will develop proposed rules for the design, siting, material and operational rules for the program this fall. After the proposed rules are announced, public hearings will be held. The rules are expected to be finalized by early 2024. 

After the rules are finalized, the Department of Transportation will launch an online application portal for restaurants. While these rules are being established, restaurants participating in the temporary program may continue to use their existing set-ups through the remainder of 2023 and through their application process. Once their application is approved, restaurants must comply with design requirements within 30 days.

For more information about Dining Out NYC, including licenses and fee structures, click here

Mayor Adams stated, “Outdoor dining is here to stay, New York. New Yorkers were hungry for a cleaner, safer, healthier outdoor dining program, and we are delivering for them with Dining Out NYC. The temporary open restaurants program saved 100,000 jobs and kept our neighborhoods vibrant — but too many abandoned sheds attracted rats and detracted from the beauty of our city. Dining Out NYC locks in the best parts of outdoor dining and gets rid of the worst — for restaurants, for communities, and for diners alike. We’re going to bring New Yorkers the largest, best outdoor dining program in the country.”

Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, Chair of the Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection and sponsor of Int. 31-C, stated, “New York City has always been a ‘foodie town,’ and it was amazing to see how the food and restaurant industry stepped up during the pandemic, on the frontline propping up our local economy during dark times. Outdoor dining was a lifeline for our city, one that can be used as the foundation of not only rebuilding and reimagining the food and restaurant industry, but also reinvigorating and stimulating New York City’s economy throughout all five boroughs.”

Andrew Rigie, executive director, and Rob Bookman, counsel, NYC Hospitality Alliance stated, “The new law will cut the red tape and fees for restaurants to participate when compared to the overly restrictive pre-pandemic sidewalk café licenses, which excluded so many restaurants throughout the five boroughs from offering al fresco dining. We look forward to collaborating with the Department of Transportation and stakeholders on the design guidelines and additional details to address issues that are important to restaurants and the communities they serve.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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