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NYC Outdoor Dining spots to shrink in August

New York City might witness a significant decline in outdoor dining options after August. The Gothamist reports that restaurants failing to register for the Outdoor Dining Program by its August 3rd deadline risk losing their outdoor seating areas.

The Outdoor Dining Program, dubbed Dining Out NYC, was established by the Eric Adams Administration in response to the unregulated proliferation of outdoor dining spaces that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the four years leading up to Eric Adams signing the Outdoor Dining Bill in 2023, restaurants turned to outdoor dining as a means to sustain their businesses.

According to the Department of Transportation, approximately 12,000 restaurants embraced the opportunity for outdoor dining, surpassing the pre-pandemic figure of 1,200 restaurants.

The new program encompasses all restaurants within the NYC area. Participating restaurants will need to modify their outdoor dining spaces to adhere to the new regulations and “pre-approved designs.”

Dining Out NYC mandates that outdoor dining sheds be open-air and equipped with upgraded drainage systems, while also ensuring they are easily movable and accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Furthermore, outdoor dining areas will operate seasonally, opening in April and closing in November to avoid the colder months. They will also be relocated to loading zones away from parking spaces, creating clear pathways for pedestrians.

For many NYC residents, the outdoor dining program has been long overdue. Despite its success in supporting restaurants, concerns have been raised about safety issues such as attracting rodents or encroaching on limited space.

However, not all restaurant owners are pleased with the program, as rising expenses due to inflation make it unaffordable for some businesses.

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, conveyed in an email to the Gothamist that while the program isn’t flawless, it represents a necessary compromise between the city and restaurant owners.

“The new outdoor dining program was a compromise,” Rigie wrote. “While not perfect, overall, it’s better for many restaurants across the city than the old system.”

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