NYC Outdoor Dining Guidelines

Thanks to the pandemic, we have gotten used to various things that we did not consider acceptable earlier. One of these things is the outdoor restaurant settings, which has become the new trend among restaurant guests and business owners!

New York City has decided to start the Open Restaurant Program to allow restaurants to use the open areas and sidewalks near curbsides and roadway spaces to serve guests. 

Who doesn’t want to enjoy seeing the hustle-bustle in the city? At the same time, the cool breeze blows in the evenings?

The emergency ORP was to combat COVID-19 while allowing restaurant owners to stay afloat during the economic crisis. 

The NYC DOT (Department of Transportation) managed the program, and the SOPs were maintained throughout the crucial months. Now, to make this program consistent, there have been law revisions to make this program permanent.

The success of the emergency program has led the DOT to come up with the same program permanently, and this time the laws include:

Accessibility: It will require setups that will be inclusive for all.

Equity: The program will ensure equal opportunity for all neighborhoods and all restaurant owners.

Appearance: The clean and attractive setups must be ensured.

Safety: The safety of all businesses, as well as restaurant visitors, must be ensured. The outdoor seating has to be planned, and the area must be made safe from traffic, passersby, and all kinds of intrusion.

Neighborhood context: No specifications for each neighborhood should be missed. If any laws prevailing in a particular area, restaurant owners must abide by them.


The Legal Changes

The legal changes had to be ensured to make this program work permanently and successfully. The laws mentioned above were the foundation, and a timeline was set to achieve various implementations. 

For example, the legal actions for zoning, local ordinances, and application details were set between Fall 2021 to Fall 2022. By the fall months of this year, all restaurants will get their work done on paper, and all approvals will be in place.

In the winter of 2022, the applications will open, and by 2023, the program will start in full bloom!

Public Outreach 

The Department of Transport and the Department of City Planning are starting an outreach program to tell New Yorkers what to expect and what they are expected to do to make the ORP a success for years. 

New Yorkers need to know what they are expected to do to support DOT and make way for the program to become a success.

Discussions for feasibility and cost and changing traffic rules and laws are all included in this outreach program. New Yorkers will be welcome to share their concerns and ideas with the authorities to ensure that all progress is made in a way that everyone benefits.

If you are a business owner and run a café or restaurant, you can fill out the application for setting up an open space as part of the ORP. 

Up till Spring 2022, this program is by the Executive Order, but soon the authorities will make it a local rule, and every eatery can apply to participate. 

This will encourage social distancing and open space gatherings rather than indoor gatherings that contribute to spreading many viruses apart from COVID-19.

The two options for expanding outdoor dining area:

Open Streets Full Closure: A group of restaurants can form a community and apply for a joint outdoor dining space. This application requires consideration for closing open spaces for traffic during specific hours.

Open Restaurants: This application will give eatery owners a chance to use the walkway or a side of the road to set up a truck or even create a sitting arrangement for visitors. 

The NYC authorities know that every business is striving, and they will make all laws and regulations according to the restaurant owners and people of New York.


The Restaurant Owners Must Know.

There are numerous conditions of the ORP that all business owners must know before applying.

Abandonment of Outdoor Seating: If a restaurant owner gets the allowance to set up the business but does not use the outdoor sitting within 30 days of the approval, the roadway dining space will be considered an abandoned restaurant will have to remove it.

Inspections: The NYC DOT will conduct inspections to see that all hygiene and ORP rules are maintained. 

In an endeavor to bring business, restaurant owners must work on the setup and improve their clientele to make the program more successful.

In case of any need for repairs, or lack of ADA access, the business owners will face termination or suspension.


Area Requirements

The restaurant owners know by now that they have to ensure the safety of the neighborhood and the visitors. 

If you own a restaurant outdoor seating space, you will have to provide basic facilities like clean sitting space, a heated area, and a smoke-free and comfortable ambiance. 

Apart from these, eatery owners are also expected to ensure that they cordon off the site to avoid any traffic interruption or intrusion in their outdoor eating space.

Furthermore, restaurant owners must put up umbrellas, comfortable furniture, and barriers with snow sticks and neon indicators.

All these exercises were done during the pandemic months, so all restaurant owners know this now. All the people and business owners will follow the exact requirements in the permanent program.


Last Words

The outdoor seating structure for all New York restaurants will be a permanent feature! Due to the success of the outdoor seating program, it will be followed in the future as well. 

However, many rules and regulations have to be followed by the people, the departments managing this program, and the restaurant owners.

If you own a restaurant in New York, now is an excellent time to apply to this program and make your business grow!