More Restaurants Get Creative About Outdoor Seating

Restaurant owners are improvising to find ways to seat people outside during the Phase 2 reopening in New York. On the Upper West Side, some are even grappling with scaffolding that makes outdoor seating even trickier.

So we take our hats off to those doing their best. Like at Patsy’s on 74th off of Columbus, where large plants block the outdoor seating from the street and give it an almost-tropical feel. Thanks to Gwen for the photo.

And Sapphire, the delicious Indian restaurant at 2014 Broadway Between 68th and 69th, where owner Satish has set up white tablecloth dining outside.

Cafe Luxembourg at 200 West 70th Street has also attempted to recreate that restaurant’s usual atmosphere right outside.

And neighborhood favorite Gennaro restaurant at 665 Amsterdam (between 92nd-93rd) has added four small, distanced tables for dining just outside their doors. “Here’s hoping for good weather days ahead for Gennaro and all the outside dining places the Upper West Side keeps sprouting,” the owner tells us.

See something cool or creative? Send us a photo at westsiderag at gmail!

FOOD, NEWS | 86 comments | permalink
    1. Amy Cook says:

      Not a fan of this at all as a pedestrian. I can’t wait until it goes away.

      • uwsider says:

        I support this 100% as a way to keep our local businesses alive and to keep this city a thriving place to be in a hard time. As for lost parking spaces, with 40% of the Upper West Side in country houses, parking is not a problem these days.

      • JP says:

        OMG, all the freaking whining on anything anyone tries to do to promote moving back to a better normal.

        You DO realize, don’t you, that these businesses did choose to be shut down for so long, right? Nothing that has happened this year is anything someone, with any common sense, would choose to live through on purpose.

        We ALL need to try our hardest to be patient just a little longer and understand that everyone is doing the best they can to survive and work TOGETHER to get back on our feet – as individuals and as a community.
        Seems kind of obvious to me.

        But, if you seriously cannot find one single place to walk in this neighborhood that does not have a business trying to stay alive, I am sure that 311 can provide you a list (parks, streets blocked off for just pedestrians, residential streets, etc).

        I just cannot wrap my head around the number of people who comment here about how their level of comfort is being affected by having to wear masks or wait in line, or navigate around temporary restaurant settings, or worry about parking (and, FYI, I have a car and am very ok with that being a little harder to maintain as I need it for my job).

        What is the point of being a community if you only care about things that only serve your needs and desires? I believe the suburbs are much more suited to that attitude, as can be seen by the droves who have already figured that out and are moving. We need the people that stay to be a part of the solution and not an addition to the problems.

      • UWS Fan says:

        omg there are so few cars, or people, just navigate around. It’s great to see restaurants open again.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        The world does not revolve around your “pedestrian” lifestyle. WE’RE TRYING TO SAVE THE CITY by having restaurants stay in business. Grow. Up.

        • rteplow says:

          I’m with JP and UWSHebrew on this!

          C’mon upper west siders, do your part and support our local restaurants, or at least learn to walk by them without complaining. Maybe tell them “welcome back”.

      • RJWS says:

        You go JP!

      • Chas17 says:

        You can’t be serious. I’m an Upper West Sider, who finds plenty of places to walk….and how about the business owner, and the employees..and those who might want to sit outside in a restaurant for a couple of hours.

    2. Doug Garr says:

      Is there some new city ordinance that allows restaurants to conscript parking spaces? Or is this about to get ugly?

      • CJ says:

        City giving special permits to do this. It’s anything but ugly. Well done!

      • West Seventy-Seconder says:

        There is! It’s Emergency Executive Order Nos. 202.38, issued 6/6/20, (specifically the provision regarding “contiguous public space”) and 126, issued 6/18/20 (which suspends various administrative and zoning laws that would otherwise impede the program).

    3. This is all so great. Nice photo, Gwen!

    4. nycityny says:

      The problem with restaurants relying on outdoor dining to survive is rain. When it rains, and it will, all of these tables and customers go away.

      • C says:

        Well. Okay. So let’s just not do it because. Rain. Really? Have you been to Paris? OMG>

        • nycityny says:

          Boy, you sure read a lot into my comment that wasn’t there. I am all for this new outdoor seating. I’m just concerned about the rain interruptions that will further impact the finances of the restaurants. That’s all I was pointing out. Sorry that reality offends you.

          • Al Fresco says:

            You do realize that right now restaurants have no other choice but to have outdoor seating. They will lose more money if they don’t serve meals when it’s nice out.

      • Judy Harris says:

        Who wants to eat outside in this horrible heat and humidity?

        • C says:

          Not you. Apparently many people do.

        • Restaurant Fan says:

          It’s ummm summer. Happens every year.

          This one is different in many ways, but the weather is the same. You are free to stay in your a/c.

    5. UWS_lifer says:

      This is great!! I hope they expand this as far as they can get away with…and then keep it going when this is all over next year.

      I especially like the idea of putting that green astroturf stuff down that looks like grass. Brilliant!!

      Just keep the dogs away from it.:)

    6. Madd Donna says:

      Agreed!! Patsy’s did a wonderful job with their outdoor seating. Very creative and shows they care a lot about their customers comfort. Umbrellas over the tables, plants and they even covered the street.

    7. AB says:

      Already the UWS naysayers are coming out of the woodwork again. What kind of a neighborhood do we want? Boarded up empty storefronts and restaurants?

      Don’t understand the goal here. Let’s support their efforts so we get some semblance of an economy back to the UWS. Hats off to restaurants who are creative and doing their best. Most of us support you.

    8. Mark Moore says:

      This is OK on the side streets but I won’t sit next to traffic on an avenue.

    9. m.pipik says:

      Those who have cars can get away from the City if they want. Those of us who don’t are generally “stuck” in town. So how about letting us have some perks for having been grounded for months.

      • GG says:

        This is an excellent point.

        Having a car, especially over these last few months of lockdown, is a huge privilege.

        We are not going to prioritize you over reopening our local business. Get a grip.

    10. Brian Ostrowe says:

      In response to comment 2 below: “OPEN STREETSm this from the Mayor’s website:

      “There are currently over 45 miles of Open Streets across the city, with continued plans to reach a goal of 100 miles citywide. Restaurants will be able to create seating areas directly in front of their establishments on these Open Streets. The City will also identify new Open Streets on commercial strips with large number of restaurants and bars as it continues to roll out new corridors in the coming weeks and months.”

    11. blacklikeu says:

      And the first car that will collide with the diners sitting IN the street will be condemned as a what?

    12. Dave says:

      I do not feel comfortable eating in the street. The drivers are terrible I don’t want to be mowed down while I enjoy my entree.

    13. Lunabee says:

      Please tell me why anyone would enjoy dining out on the street. Proximity to traffic, fumes, noise, pedestrians is not safe or enjoyable. I like al fresco dining in the right location, like a beach or a pedestrian only street. But paying lots of dough to smell NYC in summer is not my cup of tea.

    14. KAB says:

      Welcome back to these wonderful restaurants! I hope we can all support them. They need us now.

      • UWS Fan says:

        Yes. We support and admire their perseverance and ingenuity. We will be sitting curbside soon.

    15. Wijmlet says:

      I still worry that it’s too soon to open without extreme care about distancing and masks.

      • uws lifer says:

        Keep worrying as much as you want until you feel comfortable to come outside.
        Until then the rest of us will do our best to return to normal lives.

    16. Elizabeth says:

      I’m so happy to see the restaurants finding creative ways to come back from such a tough situation.

      This is wonderful to witness, and it makes me feel so hopeful.

    17. Lilian says:

      I am voting with my *wallet* and dining out every night and leaving a nice fat tip to welcome back all the places I used to love to eat at and some new ones as well. For those who are whining, I’m sure the restaurants would probably not appreciate your sitting around nursing your one drink for two hours anyway bahhumbug

    18. UWS Dad says:

      This is all such great news. I can’t wait to give these vital parts of our community business again (in addition to all the delivery orders over the last three months). In fact, “as a pedestrian “, I’d love to see no cars or bikes period other than commercial vehicles, buses and taxis, and have street dining be a permanent thing.

    19. Lisa B says:

      While walking on 72nd yesterday I saw that the Turkish restaurant on the South side between Bway and Columbus also had a very nice setting out in the street. Sorry I didn’t grab a picture. Car traffic was quite light also.

    20. Christine says:

      We’ve already had three perfect meals out since the city opened: Bodrum, French Roast and Ellington. All wonderful – bravo!

      All I can say is YES! WE ARE BACK! NYC IS OPEN!

      Dear Debbie and Don Downers: hole up in your apartments and dream of unicorns and sunshine. You need all the help you can get. More tables for those of us who want to enjoy life. Buh bye!

    21. JS says:

      Hopefully everyone who is supporting/eating outside at local restaurants is also supporting/shopping at local stores – not using delivery.

    22. Brenda says:

      I couldn’t possibly relax and enjoy my meal around so many unmasked people. I will support my local wonderful restaurants with takeaway and generous tips.

    23. dc says:

      Thank you to all of our wonderful neighborhood restaurants for getting creative with outdoor dining!

      And to all the Debbie Downers in the comments: move to Greenwich already.

    24. Eyeroll says:

      Lol at everyone getting so annoyed at people who have different opinions.

      Yes, it is great that we are allowing restaurants to try and get back into the swing of normalcy with improvised seating.

      Yes, eating on Columbus Ave (or any open avenue) can be dangerous, loud and smelly.

      These two ideas are both legitimate. Why do you feel the need to belittle someone because they don’t share the same opinion as you? Being louder and more aggressive doesn’t make your opinion more valid

      • CJ says:

        Because many of us don’t want the neighborhood to die. So. We are supporting our businesses’ survival. It’s the larger picture some people seem to be missing with petty complaints.

        Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion. So. Stay home if you want. Negativity right now is not helpful to our local economy.

      • CCL says:

        See comment #7.

      • UWS 75th says:

        I completely agree. Attacking people for their legitimate concerns about the pandemic or traffic isn’t going to convince them to eat in the outdoor seating. It isn’t productive, it’s just antagonist. Accusing them of being negative while you attack them is narcissistic gas-lighting. Worry about yourself.

    25. EGF says:

      This is so great! Guess what naysayers, if you don’t like the concept, then don’t go! It really is as simple as that. For those of us who enjoy dining al fresco, we will be in our glory.

      • NYC + UWS says:

        It is not so simple, but let’s agree on one thing. We want our local businesses to survive and even thrive.

        Some people like the idea of eating outdoors in general. Some don’t. Some like the idea but are not comfortable with it yet. Some like the idea but not the temporary setups for their own comfort, or because they think that the restaurants or customers are ignoring the needs of the people who are not dining there .

        What frustrates me is the all or nothing venom here. It’s fine to say to each his or her own. But what are we so nasty to the other opinions here? How does that help keep our restaurants aoing?

        • AB says:

          Big Picture Alert. Again. Personal preferences are fine. Nobody is arguing with people’s rights not to like outside dining or the new improvised model.

          But. In this extremely dire business environment, what is the point in airing negative comments? It is not supportive to our flailing neighborhood. Take a walk past Oxbow Tavern. Is this what you want for the UWS?

          • NYC + UWS says:

            The point in airing opinions is to air the opinions. Even if you or I disagree wuth them. Maybe especially vecause of that.

            This is a comments section, not always a cheering squad hangout. Sometimes the opinion is presented to vent, sometimes to try to convince others. Maybe a restaurant owner will see some of the issues raised and address them. Win win. Bashing those who have real concerns is rarely a good idea.

            • Neutral says:

              Not about disagreeing with comments or opinions. It’s about kicking struggling businesses when they are fighting to survive. That’s all.

            • MM says:

              Complaining about the weather and street fumes & noise of outside cafes in the summer is not productive. It’s like outside dining in the summer in the City always is. What’s to argue?

              The mask and distance and curbside thing is a real concern, so everyone will have to assess each venue on its merits and make up their own minds. Or just not want to go at all. Not complicated.

        • RSB says:

          Restaurants cannot open right now except for outside dining. They have no choice. They are doing whatever they can to survive. What’s not to get about that?

    26. C'est Moi says:

      Can some of the pro-outdoor diners please provide specific info on the experience? The so called naysayers have some legitimate concerns about safety so it would be helpful if it’s possible to allay some non-weather-related concerns. It also might help in attracting more customers to the places you’d like to help.

      Personally, my big issue is proximity and masks – are servers, passersby and fellow diners complying for the most part? Are you seeing crowds gathering while they wait for tableS?

      Also, what’s the actual deal with traffic & fumes? Is this a situation where you’re willing to tolerate traffic to support the restaurant or is it really not so bad? Let us know!

      • A toi says:

        As with most major cities every summer, outside dining comes with heat, weather & streets.
        That is the same as it has always been.

        However, this summer right now it’s not a choice for restaurateurs. Either languish with sporadic take-out orders or offer outside cafe-style areas. Curbside spaces seem to be cleverly protected with fencing and plant stands. Not out in the middle of the street.

        The restaurants I’ve seen in the 3-4 blocks in the 70’s are filled with people looking quite happy about the experience. Servers are all wearing masks. Diners of course have to eat. So. Anyway. Whether to go or not is always a choice.

      • CJ says:

        The open outside restaurants near me are packed with diners. No crowds waiting or breathing on diners that I’ve seen. There are very few cars or pedestrians left in our area.

        Servers seem to be wearing masks. Tables are not always distanced. So. You’ll have to decide which restaurant, if any, you’ll want to try. They vary but don’t seem to be lacking customers at all.

    27. lah says:

      This is fantastic. Makes restaurants all the more accessible to people in wheelchairs or using walkers and families with strollers.

      • G says:

        It is fantastic! Plus. There is no other choice right now except cook at home or take-out.

    28. CCL says:

      Asset outside tables very well spaced on Columbus. DaCapo and Pappardelle very close tables.

    29. EdNY says:

      Whether you fully support the expansive outdoor seating or not, there is still the issue of whether all of these diners sitting somewhat close to each other without masks is going to result in an uptick in cases or not. It’s a valid concern, and there’s really no evidentiary foundation to assure us that this will be as safe as we want. Of course we hope so, but let’s not take our eye off the ball. We’ve done so remarkably well so far, but this is a new step.

      • Quandry says:

        No doubt this is a risk/reward dilemma. Risk is spreading more virus. Reward is not becoming a boarded up dystopian neighborhood. Avoidance avoidance conflict. So. Whaddya do?

    30. Abby P says:

      I really do not appreciate restaurants taking up non-metered parking spaces on the upper west side where parking is already a nightmare!!!! This should not be allowed!

      • UWSHebrew says:

        A true Manhattanite does not own a car, much less complain about parking spaces taken up by restaurants trying to survive. I would seriously consider moving to the suburbs where you will find all the parking you could ever wish for.

        • EdNY says:

          I’m glad you own the definition of “a true Manhattanite.” While you’re certainly entitled to your opinion, there are thousands of legal Manhattan residents (those who pay taxes to NYC) who do own cars and who don’t park on its streets. They pay for both. I guess we’d have to call them “false Manhattanites.”

      • CPW says:

        I don’t know where you live, but there’s nobody left in our neighborhood. Cars and people gone. Lots of spaces.

        Last night hardly any garbage to be picked up. So. Come over to CPW area, there’s lots of space. Plenty for cars and restaurants.

        • sam mosenkis says:

          Agree. Every family we know with kids, except a few who unfortunately do not have family outside of the city or the financial means to leave, have left the city. But there are plenty of folks that have stayed and will happily sit in the street to “eat out”. I personally wouldnt — the experience is not enjoyable enough for it to be worth it. But I am happy the restaurant owners can earn some more revenue this way.

      • UWS_lifer says:

        Oh yeah? well I don’t approve of all these cars taking up spaces that could be used for tables to eat at these struggling restaurants.

        See how that works?? These businesses are the life blood of the UWS and NYC in general.

        Some people are so selfish. Sheesh!!

    31. David S says:

      I’m generally fine with this. But over a two-mile stroll down Broadway the other evening (from 110th to 70th), I passed a few restaurants that were more than a bit abusive. If pedestrians need to venture into a traffic lane in order to pass the seating area safely, there’s a problem. One restaurant extended their seating area over about 3/4 of the width of the sidewalk, and then had their hostess stand at the curb. The choice was to squeeze past in the three feet of space between the tables and the hostess stand or step out into traffic. That’s not acceptable.

      • UWS Pedestrian says:

        Since there are so few cars on the streets these days, should barricade off the lane in front of the restaurant for pedestrians. Thought that was the whole idea. Easy fix.

        • your_neighbor says:

          Why should pedestrians have to walk over into the street? Do you want the wheelchair users, baby stroller pushers and others with limited mobility have to hop off and on the curb whenever they pass a restaurant?
          Let the restaurants temporarily have the parking lane and call 311 on them if they are not considerate of pedestrians on the sidewalk.

          It is nice that restaurants have a place to expand into, unfortunately it looks like every gym in the city is going to have to close due to the governor’s threats to not even open them up in phase 4 and maybe not even at all until 2021.

          • Another neighbor says:

            So like it’s now Repubs v. Dems, no-masks v. masks, and restaurants v. gyms? Ah. The new divide.

            What about dogs v. cats? Just kidding. NO!!!

    32. CLW says:

      Delightful late lunch today at French Roast. Around the corner on 85th there was even a light breeze—and an awning for shade.

      • UWS Strong says:

        Sounds so nice. Thanks for that.

      • UWSWasp says:

        Going for a stroll tonight in my beloved neighborhood I could have sworn I took a wrong turn and was in Las Rambla, Barcelona. LOVE the new outdoor dining and pub venues. So happy to see UWSers outside, sensibly distanced, enjoying themselves.

    33. SNY says:

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