New York City Mayor Eric Adams today signed Intro. 31-C into law and unveiled “Dining Out NYC” — New York’s permanent outdoor dining program and the largest outdoor dining program in the nation.
The product of more than a year of negotiations between the Adams administration and the City Council, with extensive input from the restaurant industry and communities across the entire city, the signing of the bill — sponsored by New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez — and the creation of this new program represents a major legislative accomplishment for the Adams administration after Mayor Adams championed the bill as a top priority in his “Working People’s Agenda” in January 2023.
“Dining Out NYC” represents one of the most significant efforts of the last decade to reimagine the city’s streetscape to support all New Yorkers and small businesses, while creating vibrant public spaces that improve quality of life and continue to accelerate the city’s economic recovery. The new program draws on lessons learned from the temporary outdoor dining program created during the COVID-19 pandemic that saved 100,000 jobs across the city but led to quality-of-life issues, as a subset of restaurant owners were unable to maintain loosely regulated outdoor dining setups.
“Outdoor dining is here to stay, New York,” said Mayor Adams.“New Yorkers were hungry for a cleaner, safer, healthier outdoor dining program, and we are delivering for them with Dining Out NYC. The temporary open restaurants’ program saved 100,000 jobs and kept our neighborhoods vibrant — but too many abandoned sheds attracted rats and detracted from the beauty of our city. Dining Out NYC locks in the best parts of outdoor dining and gets rid of the worst — for restaurants, for communities, and for diners alike. We’re going to bring New Yorkers the largest, best outdoor dining program in the country.”
“We don’t do anything small in New York City. Today, Mayor Adams signs into law the largest permanent outdoor dining program in the country,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “Dining Out NYC transforms the rapid response restaurants that pioneering owners set up during a worldwide pandemic into a program led by clear, uniform design and operational guidelines creating inviting, vibrant, attractive, and safe outdoor dining. Congratulations to all who worked hard and together to get this bill done.”
“Outdoor dining has been transformative for the public realm in New York City, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy curb and sidewalk spaces in new ways,” said Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu. “It completely reframed our thinking on how we can manage public spaces in ways that enhance the pedestrian experience, support local businesses, and improve overall vibrancy of our streets. Outdoor dining is here to stay, and I look forward to working with the New York City Department of Transportation and businesses to implement a world-class program.”
“Outdoor dining has made our streets more welcoming, vibrant, and joyful public spaces, and it is here to stay! Dining Out NYC builds upon the success of the temporary program and makes improvements that will be enjoyed by all New Yorkers,” said New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “I thank Mayor Eric Adams, Speaker Adrienne Adams, and Council Member Marjorie Velázquez for their leadership, and I look forward to working with interested restaurants on implementation.”
“Outdoor dining gave a much-needed lifeline to thousands of restaurants during the worst of the pandemic and made our streets more welcoming than ever,” said New York City Department of City Planning Director and City Planning Commission Chair Dan Garodnick. “That’s why City Planning’s text amendment to expand open restaurants to the entire city was one of our top priorities. Dining Out NYC is the next transformational step that will set New York City on a path towards healthier, safer shared streets, and more vibrant communities.”
“The temporary outdoor dining program was a crucial lifeline for our city during the pandemic, but it was designed without a plan to keep the rats from becoming its biggest patrons. The permanent program that will exist under this law means New Yorkers can enjoy our streets, restaurants can thrive, and the rats can pay their bill and go,” said New York City Department of Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch. “I want to thank Mayor Adams for his dedication to getting this done right, and I congratulate my friend, Councilmember Velazquez, on the signing of her bill into law.”
“Outdoor dining saved thousands of jobs and small businesses during the pandemic and fundamentally changed how New Yorkers view their city streets,” said New York City Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Kevin D. Kim. “Dining Out NYC builds on past success while also instituting commonsense changes to ensure outdoor dining works for everyone. By enshrining this program into law, we are helping more than 23,000 restaurants in our city thrive while making our neighborhoods more vibrant, livable, and prosperous.”
“I’m thrilled to have a permanent outdoor dining program that ensures our streets are more hospitable to New Yorkers and less hospitable to rats,” said Director of Citywide Rodent Mitigation Kathleen Corradi. “I look forward to continued partnership with DOT and other agencies in building a program that reduces rats’ access to food and shelter in service of a rat-free New York City.”
“The launch of Dining Out NYC advances another important ‘New’ New York initiative to enhance the vibrancy of our neighborhoods, said “New” New York Executive Director B.J. Jones. “The implementation of this permanent program will foster safe, accessible, and attractive outdoor dining in all neighborhoods across the city.”
The Dining Out NYC logo. Credit: New York City Mayor’s Office
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor dining was permitted exclusively on the sidewalk almost only within Manhattan. Under “Dining Out NYC,” outdoor dining will be permitted year-round on the sidewalk and from April to November in the roadway. The new law creates an equitable, accessible fee structure for participating restaurants, with rates varying by location and setup size — and with significantly lower fees than existed under the previous sidewalk café program.
Under the creation of this new law, DOT will work with partner agencies to develop proposed rules that will establish design requirements as well as siting, material, and operational guidance. Those rules will enter public review this fall. Under the new program, outdoor dining setups will be open-air and easier to move or break down. Restaurants actively participating in the temporary program can continue operating with existing setups through the remainder of 2023 and throughout their application process, as detailed below.
DOT, in partnership with sister agencies, is developing proposed rules for public review this fall that will establish design requirements for participating restaurants as well as siting, material, and operational requirements. These new rules will address quality-of-life concerns of the temporary program, including sanitation and accessibility. Setups in the permanent program will be open-air and easier to move and break down than those in the temporary program, and the city will no longer allow fully enclosed structures.
Once the new rules are finalized by early 2024, DOT will launch an online application portal where restaurants can begin applying for the permanent program. A restaurant’s outdoor dining setup will need to comply with the permanent program’s design requirements within 30 days of their application approval. This timeline anticipates the first approved Dining Out NYC setups will be on the street in spring 2024.
More information on the permanent program is available online.
“Outdoor dining helped revive our local restaurants during the COVID pandemic,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “When I sponsored the first iteration of the outdoor dining bill in 2020, New York City looked very different. Our restaurants were struggling to make ends meet and our neighbors were dealing with the devastation of a public health crisis that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers. Now, years later, it’s incredible to see the bill permanently changing how we think about our largest public space: our streets. Thank you to Council Member Marjorie Velázquez for championing this bill, helping our city continue to thrive.”
“New York City has always been a ‘foodie town,’ and it was amazing to see how the food and restaurant industry stepped up during the pandemic, on the frontline propping up our local economy during dark times,” said Marjorie Velázquez, Chair of the Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection. “Outdoor dining was a lifeline for our city, one that can be used as the foundation of not only rebuilding and reimagining the food and restaurant industry, but also reinvigorating and stimulating New York City’s economy throughout all five boroughs.”
“The establishment of a permanent outdoor dining program is a win for residents and restaurants alike,” said New York City Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “Intro. 31-C ensures we maintain a robust outdoor dining program while addressing community members’ quality-of-life concerns. I thank Speaker Adams for her leadership on this issue and commend my colleague Councilmember Velázquez for her tireless work on this legislation, and I look forward to working with the administration toward its implementation.”
“Intro 31-C will continue to help small businesses recover from COVID while preserving jobs. It also addresses concerns from the restaurant industry and communities across the city,” said Councilmember Kamillah Hanks. “The bill will help to move New York City’s economy forward while providing a better quality-of-life for New Yorkers. Thank you to my colleagues and Speaker Adams for supporting this legislation, and thank you to Mayor Adams for signing it into law.”
“Outdoor dining has long been a vital part of New York’s vibrant restaurant industry,” said New York City Councilmember Julie Menin. “The COVID-19 pandemic empowered New York City to remove restrictive bureaucratic barriers, which allowed outdoor dining to become a lifeline to keep so many small businesses from permanently closing. Establishing a revised permanent outdoor dining program that incorporates lessons learned from the pandemic will have the ability to help keep our streets safe, clean, and maintained. Outdoor dining will truly serve and support our vibrant commercial corridors, restaurants, and New Yorkers for years to come and I thank Mayor Adams, Speaker Adams, and Council Member Marjorie Velázquez for advancing this vital legislation.”
“After over two years of hearings and meetings with community members, business owners, transportation and public space advocates, and more, New York City finally has established an inclusive, responsible, and streamlined outdoor dining program that improves on both the pre-pandemic sidewalk cafe process and the emergency program,” said New York City Councilmember Carlina Rivera. “The provisions in this bill provide opportunities for small businesses while balancing the needs of residents through clear enforcement, escalating fines, and a community input process.”
“Cheers and thank you to Mayor Adams for signing the historic permanent outdoor dining legislation into law, which includes sidewalk cafes and streeteries,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director, and Rob Bookman, counsel, NYC Hospitality Alliance. “The new law will cut the red tape and fees for restaurants to participate when compared to the overly restrictive pre-pandemic sidewalk café licenses, which excluded so many restaurants throughout the five boroughs from offering al fresco dining. We look forward to collaborating with the Department of Transportation and stakeholders on the design guidelines and additional details to address issues that are important to restaurants and the communities they serve. We extend a special thank you to Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, Speaker Adrienne Adams and her team, and all the elected leaders and advocates for their support of this monumental public policy. New Yorkers should go out and celebrate with a meal at an outdoor café!”
“The passage of this bill marks a new era for New York City’s public realm,” said Jackson Chabot, director of advocacy and organizing, Open Plans. “The pandemic showed us just how valuable our streets can be when we think beyond driving and parking; and now, New York City has committed to build off those lessons and to continue to evolve as a modern, people-centered city. We’re grateful to Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu, Mayor Adams, Speaker Adrienne Adams, and our fellow advocates for championing this popular program, and we look forward to working together to make the program a lasting and substantial transformation of our streets.”
“The NYS Latino Restaurant Bar & Lounge Association is appreciative to Mayor Adams, Speaker Adams, Council Member Velázquez, and the City Council for supporting the restaurant industry with the passage of Int. 0031-2022, establishing a permanent outdoor dining program in NYC,” said Jeffrey García, president, NYS Latino Restaurant Bar & Lounge Association. “The new law will increase accessibility to al fresco dining for restaurants throughout the five boroughs and lower the pre-pandemic associated fees for sidewalk cafés and eateries. Our organization will continue to collaborate with the city’s elected officials on the specifics of the program to best serve restaurants and local communities. Outdoor dining has become an integral part of New Yorkers’ lives, and we cannot wait for an even better, permanent program.”
“This is a major victory for our city’s streets, restaurants, pedestrians, and businesses,” said Jesse Lazar, interim executive director, AIA New York. “Outdoor dining has been a lifeline for restaurants during the pandemic and has helped to revitalize our streets and sidewalks. This legislation will ensure that outdoor dining is here to stay in New York City and helps make our city a more vibrant and welcoming place for everyone. We look forward to working with the city further, and thank Speaker Adams, Council Member Velázquez, and additional sponsors Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu and Mayor Adams for championing this important effort.”
“New Yorkers applaud the City Council and the Mayor’s office for celebrating outdoor dining culture and prioritizing community use of sidewalks,” said Matthew Clarke, executive director, of Design Trust for Public Space. “Beyond supporting local restaurants and small businesses, the outdoor dining program has shown the vast potential of public space and how we can better utilize our curbs. We look forward to working with the city to design an Open Restaurants program that centers the needs of all New Yorkers.”
“Since the early part of the pandemic, outdoor dining has helped save thousands of jobs and businesses while creating space to bring neighbors, friends, and families together safely,” said Maulin Mehta, New York director of, Regional Plan Association. “The program also showed us that we can do so much more with our right-of-way if we move away from only viewing it as space for the movement and storage of vehicles. With this legislation, we can finally think about the future and make sure we implement a program that benefits businesses and neighborhoods. We are grateful for the leadership shown by Mayor Eric Adams, Speaker Adrienne Adams, Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu, Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, and all the cosponsors and members who helped usher this bill through. We look forward to supporting efforts that come next to ensure a successful permanent outdoor dining program.”
“We applaud the mayor and City Council’s decision to make outdoor dining a permanent fixture of the fabric of New York City,” said Renae Reynolds, executive director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “This is a win for our public space, our economy, and for a people-centric future for our urban landscape, as this outdoor dining program will revitalize the streets of a city that continuously reinvents itself. And this time we have chosen streets for the people, over cars and parking.”
Photo credit: 1) Seitu. 2) Source.
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