Outdoor Dining to Continue Year-Round in NYC

Outdoor Dining to Continue Year-Round in NYC

By Penny Laughlin

To promote the long-term recovery of New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has extended the Open Restaurants program, making the popular initiative permanent. Restaurants will be allowed to provide heating and enclosures to increase diner comfort during cooler weather. Restaurants can also expand seating to adjacent properties (provided they secure permission from their neighbors).

Outdoor Heating

  • Electrical heaters will be permitted on sidewalks and roadways.
  • Propane and natural gas heaters will only be allowed on sidewalks.
  • Use of propane will require an FDNY permit and must comply with FDNY regulations for outdoor use, handling, and secure outdoor tank storage overnight.
  • Restaurants may not install heating elements until the city releases official guidelines.

Tent Enclosures

  • For partial tent enclosures, at least 50% of the tent’s side wall surface area must remain open.
  • For full tent enclosures, the tent’s side walls may be closed, but occupancy limitations may not exceed 25% of capacity. Indoor dining guidelines apply.
  • Electric heaters may be used in both partial and full tent enclosures.
  • Enclosed structures, such as plastic domes, may be used for individual parties. Such structures must have adequate ventilation to provide air circulation.

Adjacent Properties

  • Restaurants may expand seating to the frontage of adjacent properties, provided the owners of adjacent properties formally agree to the usage for a specified period of time and commit not to charge a fee.
  • New York City will work with the State Liquor Authority (SLA) on requirements related to extending alcohol service to the expanded seating area.
  • NYC DOT will issue a template agreement and filing instructions in early October.
  • Adjacent properties may not be used before the release of official instructions or without formal agreements.

Extending the program through the winter months creates additional safety risks from potential inclement weather. Additional safety measures will be required, with a compliance deadline of November 15, 2020.

If you have any questions about this program, please contact Metropolis Group at 212.233.6344.