For a while outdoor dining was the only way to dine as the Covid pandemic wreaked havoc on the world. The Open Streets program allowed certain blocks to close to vehicular traffic in order to give people more space to spread out outdoors, and restaurant owners were given permission to build outdoor dining setups on sidewalks and in curb lanes.
And the more we enjoyed our meals al fresco, the more outdoor dining became a norm and essentially something to look forward to each time the weather warmed up.
So have we reached a time were these outdoor ‘streeteries’ become extinct?
The good news is it doesn’t appear as if they’ll permanently start disappearing from the city, rather they’ll now only be offered seasonally as the City Council moves on from these outdoor dining structures.
A bill introduced back in February 2022 called to push sidewalk and curbside eateries to only be available seasonally, though it was stalled when open space advocates and restaurateurs slammed city politicians for the proposal.
Now, according to Streetsblog, the legislation is expected to come before lawmakers next month, thus, sadly, these a majority of these eateries will likely be made seasonal.
There’s still hope for outdoor dining, however.
Council Member Justin Brannan reportedly told Streetsblog that their main focus is on the ornate sheds that popped up in the street, and that sidewalk dining would still be allowed to continue year-round.
“The plan is not to make permanent the current outdoor dining sheds you see on our streets or continue with this patchwork quilt of random structures…but to create a better program with new rules, new standards, clear design guidelines and operating requirements, moving away from the year-round structures that often sit empty during the winter months,” said Brannan.
Early last month, council speaker Adrienne Adams voiced her opinion that she didn’t believe outdoor dining should take up road space.
“Outdoor dining should be—in my perspective—sidewalk structures instead of the structures that we have in the streets now that a lot of them have turned into other things, which they were not meant to be,” she stated.
And while some are crossing their fingers for these streeteries to be part of a permanent outdoor dining policy, others are pushing against outdoor dining as a whole.
A lawsuit was brought up against the city on July 29, 2022 by those at odds with outdoor dining, in which they expressed their concern regarding noise, loss of parking, garbage, and rat issues associated with dining outdoors.
Though a spokesperson for Mayor Adams stated that the prospect of creating a permanent program is an optimistic one.
“We’re committed to a permanent open restaurants program that supports New York City’s small businesses and communities. We’re working closely with the council on this legislation and optimistic we can get this done,” said speaker Kate Smart in a statement reported by Streetsblog.
One thing is for certain–with the recent warm weather NYC has been experiencing it seems as if the spring is quickly approaching, so we’ll just have to wait and see what becomes of the many streeteries taking up road space throughout NYC.