Restaurants Start Placing Tables in Streets and Parking Spots; Here are Some That are Opening Outside

Tables in the street outside Harvest Kitchen, at 73rd and Columbus. Photo by Charles Lyons.

By Emily Yourman

The outdoor furniture has been dusted off and placed six feet apart, “outdoor seating” signs have been posted, and customers are more than ready for a meal outside their homes.

Starting Monday (today), New York City restaurants will be allowed to offer outdoor dining. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Open Restaurants” plan allows outdoor dining on patios, sidewalks, open streets, and backyards — with a permit. de Blasio said the permit process would be “expedited” so the restaurants don’t get stuck in red tape.

Casual seating outside Ray’s Pizza.

Businesses are handling the new rules in different ways — from casual plastic seats on the sidewalk in front of Ray’s Pizza on Columbus and 82nd, to a more elaborate setup in the roadbed in front of Harvest Kitchen on Columbus and 73rd.

La Boite en Bois on 68th.

Phase 2 comes as a relief for many business owners; over the past few months they’ve lost the business of tourists, students, and many Upper West Siders who have fled the city. Many hope this phase will draw those that are still in the neighborhood.

Bar tables set up outside Il Violino on 68th and Columbus.

“Right now we’re just trying to keep the business going,” says Evelyn, a server at Mila Cafe on Columbus and 94th Street. Like many other restaurants, Mila has struggled to break even during the pandemic. Miljan, a bartender at The Consulate, notes that their sales are only 15-20% of what they used to be.

Miljan mixing a drink at The Consulate.

Some restaurants have fared better than others: those that mainly serve carry-out foods have not suffered as much as establishments that rely on customers dining in. The Upper West Side locations of H&H Bagels and Birch Coffee do not plan on adding outdoor seating on Monday, and the employees at Bagel Talk do not anticipate that re-opening their sidewalk tables will be a game changer for sales.

An employee at Cafe Eighty Two on 82nd and Broadway.

Most restaurant owners, however, are ecstatic for the chance to draw in more business. “I can’t wait,” beams Wascar, owner and founder of M.A.C.C. on 106th Street. He opened the pizza shop last December and is currently paying out of his own pocket to keep it open. In addition to opening up his gated patio, Wascar has added sidewalk seating using a bench that was gifted to him from a local laundromat.

Customers and workers alike yearn for the social aspect of dining. Miljan misses “that passion and positive energy” the guests bring to the restaurant. Similarly, Tina, a server at Ashoka, wants to give a “shoutout to the whole community” for their support during this time and can’t wait to see them for sidewalk dining.

French Roast on 85th and Broadway.

FOOD, NEWS | 75 comments | permalink
    1. bobby says:

      Can’t wait for the internal conflict for “open it up” and “my precious parking spots!” people.

    2. Mark Moore says:

      Mila already has plenty of outdoor space without putting tables in the street. I may do this on a side street but I’m not sitting at a table two feet away from traffic on an avenue. Nope.

      • MTS says:

        Def not eager to suck fumes while eating in the gutter. Also, if cars are backing into a spot right next to you it’s a recipe for disaster.

        • Mark Moore says:

          I was thinking that too. That third picture up there, what if that Audi driver got in the car and fired up the engine to leave? It would not be pleasant.

    3. Jace says:

      Viand, 75th and Broadway!

    4. ben says:

      -“How would you like your burger?”
      -“Medium rare with car exhaust and street dust on the side please.”

      • Danielle Remp says:

        “Honey, eat your food before it gets dirty!”

      • sabrevni says:

        That’s how the Halah Guys cart, the famous one where people line up for on 6th avenue, probably acquired its great taste (smog and dirt hands of servers)

    5. jhminnyc says:

      I wish them all well and hope they stay safe, but I won’t be joining them. Phase 2 sounds to a lot of people like it’s all over. A large portion of men are already walking around with no masks on.

    6. Al Fresco says:

      Let’s find a way to support our restaurants by sitting outside or taking out. Without them there is no neighborhood.

    7. AJ says:

      Great, so in addition of worrying about catching Covid, you have to now endure bad service and the possibility of being run over by the M7.

    8. AJ says:

      Great, so in addition of worrying about catching Covid, you have to now endure bad service and the possibility of being run over by the M7.

      • RSB says:

        Why does AJ get 2x the criticism?

        • AR says:

          Lol.. gotta love the naysayers.. honestly, have you seen how few cars pass on the streets these days? Air is cleaner than it has been in decades as a result of COVID lockdown.. there’s parking spots galore in our hood.. so let’s give our restaurants a break and support their reopening.. would you rather go back to boarded windows and no businesses? Complain about cyclist “terrorizing pedestrians”? Honestly.. let’s just stop and give our neighborhood restaurants some good vibes in their creativity and trying to make it a better place to live in.

      • not freaking out says:

        Just stay home AJ

        • AJ says:

          I think I will! Lighten up people, it’s called sarcasm. Remember, restaurateurs aren’t the only ones suffering. I have to pay rent and I’ve gone used to cooking great food at home (like NYTimes Gruyere Bread!) and the thought of spending $80 for two people at a restaurant when I now am used to spending that on incredible ingredients is simply not for some of us. I feel for the restaurant people, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

          • West Side Strong says:

            AJ. Tone deaf. Prototype of selfishness. Enjoy your gruyere bread while the neighborhood languishes.

    9. Oona says:

      Noticed table & chairs set up in the Bus Lane on Amsterdam Avenue and Columbus Ave between W 85th & W84th. The areas have been blocked off by the restaurants’ on those blocks. Seems dangerous as that leaves only 2 lanes for cars on both Avenues. Concerned for the both parties but health and staying alive is paramount. This setup is an accident waiting to happen…

      • Not my first rodeo says:

        I am for restaurants being able to set up outdoors. I hope it helps keep them in business. I can’t wait until my favorites are set up!
        They are not permitted to use bus stops, crosswalks, near hydrants. I don’t know about the bus lanes. If I see something that seems dangerous, I will tell the restaurant managers . If they don’t fix it, I will report it to 311.
        We want to support our local businesses. I hope they respect the neighbors by doing it right.

    10. CJ says:

      Such negativity. Yikes. These poor restaurateurs are doing their best with what they’ve got to work with. If you don’t want to go, fine.

      • Lisa says:

        Exactly! Easy to be judgmental when your livelihood isn’t on the line.

        • C says:

          It is not just about the livelihood of the restaurants, but that is very important. It is also about the survival of our neighborhood over the long term.

      • Joanne says:


      • UWSdr says:

        Exactly…sheesh…these guys are fighting for their business to just make it through the tough times. Obviously its not ideal, but hats off to these intrepid restaurant owners who are trying to make a go of it.

    11. CCL says:

      Applaud the innovation and creativity of small business owners in this new normal. Hope they can survive in the short term and ultimately thrive.

    12. JS says:

      Arte (73rd Street) has re-opened and has real outdoor seating

    13. AB says:

      Nobody wants to sit under scaffolding so putting tables out in a parking lane makes more sense with some kind of safety barrier.

      • CCl says:

        Patsy’s on 74th has scaffolding all over the front entrance and sidewalk. So they put astroturf on the curbside with big plants and it is so creative and fun. Well done!!

    14. Sam says:

      I know the sidewalks aren’t exactly the cleanest but aren’t the streets, especially near the curb, really filthy (even with the street cleaning that just moves the dirt around)? People don’t mind sitting there?

      Dining al fresco seems so quaint and charming and, of course, businesses want to get back to work but (once again) shouldn’t protecting public health be the number one concern?

    15. Denali Boy says:

      I wish the best for all food vendors but my wife and I do not plan to patronize. We wear masks because if we get the virus there is a good chance we’re staring at death. Also, the idea of sitting in a street (or one the sidewalk) with unmarked walking right by us is not appealing. Too many under 40 act as if this pandemic is over and why the need for responsible behavior,

    16. Izzy says:

      This is an awesome article. Amazing work, Emily! Thank you for informing your New Yorkers about this exciting new development!

    17. The Truth says:

      Restaurants are the soul of the community. It’s one of the many things that make NYC the greatest city in the world. When a business or person is struggling through no fault of their own, if you can’t patronize them, then encourage them. Don’t find another reason to kick them when they are down.

      • RSB says:


      • JB says:

        Could not agree more. Well said.

      • Danielle Remp says:

        I am with you on the second statement in your post. I, too, feel for (and admire) all restauranteurs who are struggling through this unmerited hardship. My empathy and best wishes are with them.

        However, the first part of your post gives me pause: First, because I would not have chosen to live in this area had I believed that the *soul* of the community was defined by eating venues; secondly, in deference to the City’s history, I think that restaurants would rank considerably low in terms of why it is great.

    18. Lydia says:

      Arte Cafe on 73rd St. has reopened with outdoor seating and takeout.

    19. curious says:

      One thing I haven’t seen addressed – are the restaurant bathrooms open to outdoor customers?

      • cj says:

        Seriously? This is your question of the moment?

      • Boris says:

        “If a food service establishment has 20 or more seats and opened after 1977, it must provide a toilet for its customers. All other food service establishments are exempt from this requirement.

        Food establishments are not required to allow public access to their employee toilets. Customers are not permitted to walk through the kitchen or any food storage or preparation area to get to the bathroom.”

        • E says:

          Many restaurants are saying that they are limiting outside seating to an hour per table so if you have a problem holding it for an hour, probably best to stay close to your own home bathroom anyway.

          • MaryC says:

            Comments like that are exactly why people are naysayers about this idea. Older people/kids/people with disabilities/ people who just have to, you know, pee, shouldn’t go to a restaurant? It’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask. Mocking those who have questions is not a way to come together.

            No restaurant will limit anyone
            to an hour if someone is buying food and especially drinks and thats not a city requirement anyway.
            It’s great to concerned about our small businesses. Their customers deserve consideration too, even if you don’t feel that anyone’s concerns count

    20. ED says:

      All the complainers can closet in their apts. and order in from Whole Foods or Fresh Direct until there is a vaccine. What? You shop at Fairway? That is like the most dangerous with those narrow aisles. Even with masks. Dogs drooling on produce, too, Yuck.

      Eating outside is a lot safer and may save the UWS. It takes a village.

    21. AC says:

      The idea of enjoying my meal as a rat scurries between my legs does not fancy me. Good luck to those brave people!

    22. Tom D. says:

      No street seating in the areas that I walked by Monday evenng. But wow, you should have seen Cafe du Soleil taking over the sidewalk space in front of the adjacent, closed storefronts. A full half block along Broadway.

      Second place in this regard goes to Fumo.

    23. Chris W says:

      My family and I had a great meal on Amsterdam Ave in the 70s last night. Great little place run by a father and his son. Maybe 8 tables out- well spaced. Constantly filled. There is a lot of pent-up demand to have a meal out and for those who are concerned about catching something, the latest studies show being outdoors makes it very hard for enough virus to land on you and infect you.

    24. Upper Jess Side says:

      This is amazing. Let’s reclaim our streets. Having outdoor dining will make New York cleaner (restaurants will be interested in keeping the street clean, fewer cars too), safer (more people on the street, slower cars) and more joyous (self explanatory). Post covid New York should be reimagined New York.

      • Peter says:

        Indeed. It’s a great opportunity to turn certain parts of NYC into European-style, pedestrian-only neighborhood hubs and malls – restaurants, cafes, shopping, etc. Somewhere where people can leisurely enjoy a variety of activities without the fumes, filth and constant traffic dangers.

    25. Vanessa says:

      I was walking by the Harvest Kitchen on Columbus and 73rd street last night when I noticed people at the tables on the street. It was at this time that a NYC Sanitation truck pulled up and stopped next to the tables to pick up trash that was at the curb. The truck was close enough that someone at a table could touch it and smell it. A delightful dining experience. This is what I’ve been waiting for.

      • lynn says:

        It appears from the photo that they have an open bike lane between the sidewalk and the tables in the street. Good luck to the servers who have to navigate this. Not a good set up for anyone all around.

      • cj says:

        Thanks for sharing this helpful anecdote. Supports the restaurateurs with their efforts to get customers. Well done. There will be issues of course, but why such negative comments? Stay home and/or let it go.

      • chris w says:

        Wow Vanessa… so don’t eat there. No reason to be such a downer. People can see clearly where the tables are and plenty of us want to support the restaurants and enjoy a meal out. The restaurants need us now. I don’t expect the meals to necessarily taste great given possible staffing issues. And I don’t expect the ambiance to be perfect. But I will do everything within reason to try and prevent more sad gaping, empty storefronts in my neighborhood.

    26. LongtimeNYer says:

      New York has to reopen–for its economic survival–but we have to stay as safe as possible.

    27. Stu says:

      Hope it works out for the restaurant owners. For me, while I generally have long enjoyed dining on sidewalk tables, I could not enjoy dining while sitting in the gutter, with traffic driving inches away from me and my food. Grosses me out to even think about it.
      But I hope it works out for the owners!

    28. Noma says:

      WTF is 8th hill thinking. I am all for restaurants adapting and fighting to survive, but they have literally taken up the ENTIRE sidewalk. Tables up to 75% of the sidewalk and then the other 25% covered by their bar tops. It’s completely inconsiderate and they need to be brushed back.

    29. Brandon says:

      Look honey! Those people just got their check. Maybe we can park there.


      Waiter, what about that table?

      That table is for people who can eat in 2-3 minutes

    30. Jenny says:

      I’m happy that this will help businesses and it’s nice to see people enjoying themselves but I will continue to do my part by getting take out. I like the way outdoor dining looks so lively, but personally bugs, b.o., garbage, dog dirt, harassers and humidity make it unpleasant IMO. I guess we can add lingering covid droplets to the list of icky stuff….

    31. JS says:

      Question to consider….

      Should and/or will people feel some responsibility to assist homeless people when they come by?

      It is a serious issue and worth some thought….

    32. UESider says:

      Given so many nit-picky negative comments here, it’s a wonder that any business or restaurant has ever had any chance of success on the UWS. Seems like a curmudgeon-filled community.

    33. Mquil says:

      Poor malachy’s. Scaffolding prevents sidewalk tables. Bus stop prevents parking spot tables.

    34. SenioRita says:

      Passing 85th & Columbus at 10 this morning I was pleased to see that Viand was setting up tall, nice-looking Plexiglas panels to separate the outdoor tables from pedestrians. So: protection for diners from auto fumes and curious dogs; protection for pedestrians from maskless diners. I walk with a cane, and was doubly pleased that Viand left enough room on the sidewalk so that I did not have to detour into the tree well. Nice job. I’m not ready to eat at a restaurant, indoors or out, but I may just order their terrific Fiesta Salad for delivery tonight.

      • CCL says:

        Love this! Go Viand.

      • MaryC says:

        That’s the type of business I want to support. They are trying to come back, but respectful of the neighborhood people
        le. If we are their customers we deserve that mutual respect

    35. SNY says:

      I’d say let restaurants allow outdoor seating in the area allotted for parking spaces! The Dept of Traffic should set up secure Jersey Barricades as a safety measure between traffic lanes and restaurant tables. The restaurants would benefit by adding umbrellas to shield diners from the scorching afternoon sun. This is a unique opportunity for NY to enhance and expand outdoor dining during the Covid-19 crisis. At least through October. Why shouldn’t NYC restaurants and cafes be like Paris of Madrid…and everywhere else – with enhanced outdoor dining? Just keep it attractive! Potted palms and stylish umbrellas always work!

    36. Sam says:

      they taking parking spots . Hard to get 1 as is in the city and now makes it harder. Stupider are as stupider is.