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Op-ed | Outdoor dining is here to stay in New York City

Aug. 22, 2023 By Mayor Eric Adams

This past week we made it official: outdoor dining is here to stay. New Yorkers were hungry for an outdoor dining program that was cleaner, safer, and healthier. And by signing a new bill to bring al fresco dining to all five boroughs, we’ve delivered for them.

Our new outdoor dining program, “Dining Out NYC,” will be the largest outdoor dining program in the nation and will shape New York City’s streets going forward. It’s going to help our small businesses thrive, get visitors and residents alike to spend money in our neighborhoods, and support good jobs for working-class New Yorkers.

Before the pandemic, outdoor dining was largely limited to Manhattan — and only allowed on the sidewalks. On top of that, the city charged thousands of dollars in fees to restaurant owners, many of them small business owners. When the pandemic started, outdoor dining was temporarily expanded to every borough in the city and included the use of roadway space.

The expansion was a resounding success. Outdoor dining kept our world-famous restaurants alive through the pandemic, and, without question, helped save 100,000 jobs while keeping our neighborhoods vibrant.

With Dining Out NYC, we are building on the best of outdoor dining and throwing the worst in the trash. Now New Yorkers won’t have to leave the city for great outdoor dining; they will be able to enjoy all that New York City’s restaurants have to offer, all outdoors in the fresh air.

And I want New Yorkers to know: we heard your concerns about outdoor dining. Abandoned dining sheds attracted rats and detracted from the beauty of our city. That’s why in the last year, we removed over 430 abandoned and egregious sheds — I even took a sledgehammer to help dismantle one.

Dining Out NYC will have specific cleanliness guidelines and allow roadway dining during the eight warmest months of the year, which will allow us to keep our streets cleaner, fight rats, and keep getting rid of abandoned sheds when setups come down in the winter.

This is how we get outdoor dining done right. This is how we create jobs for working-class New Yorkers. And this is how we stand with our small businesses. Our administration is committed to working with every restaurant to give them the support they need to take advantage of this program.

Just like it takes a team in the kitchen working together to make a great meal, historic change takes all of us working together. I want to thank all the restaurant owners, workers, diners, and communities who made this program possible.

I look forward to dining out with you on a New York City street soon. Bon appétit!

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