By Carol Tannenhauser
New York City bars and restaurants will be able to offer al fresco dining on municipal spaces — sidewalks, parking spots, and open streets — for at least another year, as a result of a new state law signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday, July 7th.
Today I signed legislation that will allow bars & restaurants to continue using municipal spaces for outdoor dining for another year.
Outdoor dining was not only popular—it was a lifeline to small businesses. I'm glad to enact this extension.https://t.co/DNUiVBlfT3
— Archive: Governor Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) July 7, 2021
Outdoor dining came into existence on June 4, 2020, through an executive order issued by the mayor. “In New York City, the Department of Transportation managed the scheme, converting 8,550 parking spaces into street seating, and Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed the effort saved some 100,000 jobs,” amNY reported.
But the executive order was set to run out in one year, requiring legislation to extend outdoor dining. “In this case, the legislation was necessary to allow the state Liquor Authority the discretion to continue the use of this space without prior approval,” a press release explained.
Phil Alotta, owner of Lilly’s Cocktail and Wine, on West 72nd Street, between Columbus and Central Park West, summarized his reaction to the news of the extension in one word. “Phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. Without outdoor dining I would be out of business. It’s going to keep so many small businesses in business. It’s a savior. It saved me as an owner-operator, and it saved a dozen people’s jobs. And the city is more than making up in sales tax what it loses at parking meters. Financially, it’s a no-brainer.”
Lilly’s is thriving, Phil said. “It’s a European feeling, dining outside. It has a romance to it. Everybody loves that feeling.”
It’s a far cry from the way things were a year ago. “It was really rough,” he recalled. “It was touch and go; it was questionable. It could have very well gone the other way. Fortunately, the federal government came through with some assistance, too, and that was also a determining factor.”
Not everybody loves outdoor dining. One man, who asked that his name not be used, said, “Especially on the avenues, where there are bike lanes, restaurants and double-parked delivery trucks, it reduces traffic flow to one or two lanes. And the bike lanes running through the restaurants are hazardous to customers and staff.”
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, lauded the extension of outdoor dining, but added, “There’s still a long journey toward the industry’s full recovery, and the next step must be for the federal government to replenish the depleted Restaurant Revitalization Fund.”
Right now it is not known whether that step will be taken. “Restaurant leaders are pushing for additional money to keep the program afloat, but it’s unclear whether Congress will act,” USA Today reported. “The White House would not commit…to supporting legislation to replenish funds.”
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming, Football’s coming home!
Three lions on a shirt – hope to be dancing like Nobby on Sunday!
Footy Fan: any suggestions for where to watch on UWS on Sunday?
Blondies is a good suggestion, I’d also recommend George Keeley’s.
Will probably go to Blondies sports bar
I still don’t understand why the governor of the state has any control over municipal streets and sidewalks. New York governance is very strange.
Great news. We were at Tulio on Bway @ 92nd.
Live music, everyone enjoying themselves.A lovely experience right in the hood. Thx Gov.
Now if we could just eliminate loud mufflers and trail bikes…………
This is great news for the city— and for Lilly’s! Excellent story. Thank you!
Great story carol! Happy that the governor is extending outdoor dining. A big win for the city.
Yeah, right. Plywood shanties are sooooo European. The UWS looks like a low-rent beachtown on pavement. I understand making allowances to allow businesses to survive, but the aesthetic is tacky. It will be ironic to hear all the complaints about ‘sidewalk sheds’ after two years of seeing Manhattan converted in a shantytown.
Yes, some unpainted plywood outdoor shanties are incredibly tacky and more suitable for that low-end, red-neck inhabited beachcomber pavilion somewhere near Myrtle Beach. But some outdoor dining venues are beautiful. Much more pleasing than parked cars, thank you very much! And isn’t it nice that flowers, tropical palms and shrubbery is adorning our sidewalks for the first time? Before, there were mostly littered filled tree pits without tree guards or flowers! Now there are botanical gardens of outdoor spaces on some blocks! Thank you to THOSE caring restaurant owners! No, it’s not the Parisian elegance with gorgeous wicker seating that now adorns most NYC sidewalks. But the liveliness and added greenery sure beats the ugliness of more parked automobiles.
Those “shacks” have loads more charm than the parking lot that used to be there.
The same space can be used for outdoor dining for 10 or more people, generating tax dollars, supporting jobs and local restaurants, or free parking for two SUVs. I know which one I would rather have.
The shacks served their purpose. Time to get rid of them and return the streets to the cars.Open sidewalk area are OK (very European}
Sure, some unpainted plywood outdoor dining shacks need major design improvements…but they are better than parked cars! Yes, some look like beachcomber shanties better suited for Myrtle Beach than Manhattan. But some outdoor dining spaces truly look beautiful – bringing potted flowers, palms and hanging ferns to otherwise dreary store frontages. No, it’s not Parisian elegance. But many restaurant operators have brought colorful botanical greenery and liveliness to countless sidewalks. Keep these dining pavilions in NYC! And let’s say good riddance to the clutter of all those parked cars along our pedestrian sidewalks.
Welcome to Mumbai.
Actually – so sorry, Mumbai is much nicer.
NYc, the new shantytown of the USA.
Amen. These huts are sad and pathetic.
JULY 7 in the lead, not June.
Most of these structures look like they were put together by guys who have no concept of structural engineering and were paid to put these things up as fast as possible with no regard to aesthetics. If I need to put up a 6 foot wall in my apartment I need engineer’s drawings and approvals from the Dept of Buildings – these structures obviously needed no inspections or approvals. The entire city is looking like a shanty town.
Time to strictly regulate these structures because many are an accident waiting to happen.
Bernie, they’re huts, not the Taj Mahal. Relax and enjoy the wonderful outside dining.
If you read my comment completely you would see my concern for the structural stability of these dining facilities. Have them submit engineering plans to the department of buildings, get them approved and then build or reconstruct properly for the safety of all. Plenty of these structures went down during high winds and winter storms – and last winter was cold but below average snow. I’m ok with them if they were built to code. It would be nice if many of them didn’t look so ramshackle.
There has actually been a lot of concern in the East Village about restaurant street sheds attracting rats.
Also issues with drainage under the sheds.
the point is to help the restaurants survive… sorry if it doesn’t give you aesthetic pleasure. And this being NYC, with rain and harsh winters, open air tables will not help much. When restaurants fail, gaping holes open up on blocks and that doesn’t look so great either.
Many restaurants have increased their capacity by 2 or 3 times with outdoor seating. It’s laughable that they want even more money from the Federal Government.
In addition, they are getting PUBLIC space for FREE … where is the outrage on this? A select few people get to use public space without paying and no one is complaining?
Jacob’s Pickle on Amsterdam and 85th is the worst … they have taken over almost half a block of space. Is this not illegal?
If the government wants to extend this facility, we need laws, fees and enforcement.
“ they are getting PUBLIC space for FREE … where is the outrage on this? A select few people get to use public space without paying and no one is complaining?”
You could say the exact same thing about every parking spot in the neighborhood. Car owners are a minority in the neighborhood and they get the the overwhelming majority of curb space to store their personal vehicles.
Sorry, you have your facts wrong.
Car owners pay plenty of fees/taxes.
The space the restaurants are getting is in ADDITION to what they currently pay to their landlords and it is FREE.
Public space for free. Who are you to decide that it is ok for restaurants to get the space for free and not cars? Just because you like restaurants and hate cars? Doesn’t work that way. You don’t get to decide.
Interesting point. Restaurants currently pay rent on their space, which compensates landlords for the real estate taxes which are in part determined by square footage. Restaurants are now getting incremental square footage at no extra cost.
Previously, when a restaurant was permitted to use sidewalk space did they have to pay for this extra space?
The restaurants contribute to the economy through taxes, jobs, etc. But now that we are returning closer to BAU, charging them some nominal amount for this additional space would be a good idea. The city’s budget could certainly use the help.
“Jacob’s Pickle on Amsterdam and 85th is the worst … they have taken over almost half a block of space. Is this not illegal?”
Why should it be illegal? The restaurant got lucky to get the extra space.
Why are West Side Rag readers so enamored with government regulation to get their favored outcome.
They are allowed to use the space on the street and sidewalk that’s in front of their storefronts. Presumably a bigger storefront costs more so you are benefiting from that. Jacobs Pickles has taken over the space in front of a schoolyard that they are not entitled to. They are definitely overstepping and it doesn’t help that their clientele waiting for tables can be rude and refuse to make space for people to walk by comfortably.
If there is space like that available why not offer it to a store or restaurant that can’t use the space in front of their own storefront because there are fire hydrants or bus stops or are on narrow sidestreets? Why are they out of luck while other places violate both the “letter of the law” and spirit of this helpful initiative?
Exactly. Jacob’s Pickle is “entitled” to the space outside their store front, NOT for all the extra space they have taken in front of the play ground. It is ridiculous that they get away with it for FREE.
Make restaurants pay, make car owners pay a permit fee. More revenue for the city, and less complaints.
I agree… the bar near me took over half a city block. I didn’t move to NYC to live in a barroom. Drunks trump residents on the UWS.
In their defense, they are all paying taxes (or they should be), generating jobs, etc. So others do benefit.
I am all for supporting restaurants but I wish there was a happy medium. There is a huge variety of outdoor seating – some better than others. In some areas it really blocks the sidewalk and pedestrians are dodging servers bringing food across the sidewalk. For example, at busy times it is impossible to walk up the south side of 84th between Broadway and WEA with all of the activity at Maison Pickle and 5 Napkin Burger.
I think there needs to be some fee charged to allow a stepping-up of inspections. It’s very important that restaurants not block disabled access to the sidewalk or blare music at inappropriate hours and that the structures not be so flimsy they collapse or blow over in a stiff wind, which has already happened a few times. With that proviso, this is a good thing. More people on the street means greater safety for all. Some of you all are just ready to move to New Rochelle and points north and should go ahead and do it.
What would West Side Rag look like without the usual bunch of complainers, even about a great outcome for its residents?
Of course some sheds are not museum pieces. Does it matter?
Exactly. Normally these spaces are filled with people’s ugly cars and we never heard a complaint about that.
Please note that many West Side restaurant owners/managers actually drive and park their cars on the street.
This often relates to night hours and commutes home, the need to bring supplies etc.
The next time anyone complains about car parking being free, I will remind them that car owners pay drivers license fees, registration fees, gas tax, tolls AND keep mechanics employed, car part companies going, dealerships in business, etc. There is a whole ecosystem that is supported.
Unlike the restaurants who are getting a free ride.
I’m all for keeping them going outdoors if they pay their “fair share” (phrase of the year) for expanding their capacity 2x or 3x.
People want to decide what “they” think is appropriate to give public space away for free. If anyone has a different opinion, they are labeled “complainers”.
This is what our world has come to – disagree with the liberal population and you are labelled with some derogatory phrase or other.
Car ownership is actually subsidized in all kinds of (foolish) ways by our society. No reason to give you free public space as well.
I don’t see any “car hatred” here. I just see a lot of people complaining about restaurants using the public areas that were used in many cases private car storage. Questioning the aesthetics of structures restaurants built while ignoring what would be in their place otherwise seems to be a misplaced concern.
Cars certainly have their place in the city, but questioning the fairness of publicly subsidized parking for folks and the amount of that publicly subsidized parking isn’t hatred; it’s a debate we should have.
I don’t understand the car hatred around here. The world is not black and white. Car owners should not be given unlimited privileges but nor should they be treated like spawn of Trump.
Car owners pay plenty of taxes. I think that some kind of nominal parking permit fee would also be a good idea. But this nastiness and angst is unnecessary. Many people need them for very good reasons, and many of these people are working class.
It is really ridiculous how every argument these days boils down to extremes. New Yorkers and UWSers in particular think they are so much smarter than everyone but in acting this way, we just look like fools.
Absolutely none of those fees you cite provide any money for maintaining parking spots in New York City.
The process that the city is now figuring out is how much these restaurants will pay for the privilege of using our public space, unlike all the non-metered spots in the city currently used for parking private vehicles.
Let’s get the facts straight.
The “parking” outside the restaurants was PAID parking, not free. So don’t make false statements.
Secondly, to state that NONE of the fees/taxes goes to maintaining roads is categorically false. The parking spots are part of the road, who do you think pays for maintaining the roads? You do know that the gasoline tax goes to the Federal government for road maintenance and then gets parceled out to the various states, right? Or maybe you don’t … maybe you are just making random false statements?
Should car owners pay to park on the street? For sure, put a resident permit fee on car owners like every major city in the country. Makes sense.
What doesn’t make sense is allowing out of state registration plates to park for free.
Finally, the government has extended for ONE MORE YEAR the FREE permit for restaurants. This is NOT fair.
If restaurants can’t make money with 2x or 3x their original capacity, they should NOT be in business.
We love Lilly’s!
It’s far from perfect but a temporary fix people so chill out. Shanty town? Get a grip. If all these restaurants went out of business, you’d also be the first to complain the government did nothing to help them.
I love the new outdoor dining, even in the middle of winter! Make it permanent, and bring back cocktails for sale. I can’t believe all the negative comments, though I know this must be the complainiest neighborhood in the US.
I loved outdoor dining/cocktails even before the pandemic. I agree it should be made permanent. Cafe Luxembourg did an excellent job with their outdoor structures. Plus, it was always so cramped indoors. The wait staff who have to deal with bike lanes are being careful. Again I hope it stays.
As much as I find myself sometimes loathing having to navigate through crowded sidewalks because of outdoor dining, I’d hate it a lot more to see the restaurants not survive. So yes more outdoor dining please!
The shanties are ugly. They use up parking spots rent-free. And many blast music with zero consideration of the people living above them who are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their apartments. But the city doesn’t care about them.
I have not heard music emanating from any shack.
Music blasting from the shacks sounds like an urban legend. I have passed many of these shacks and not once have I heard music emanating from them.
I don’t mind the shanties but as someone who sat in one last January on nights when it was so cold the heat lamp was useless* I can’t see them being in year round demand. If they are not in use over the winter, I would expect them to be dismantled.
* and was happy to support local business in doing so (in my long ‘wears).
While I support restaurants doing whatever it takes to survive the post pandemic economy, the law seems to allow for a very broad interpretation of where the seating can be set up. I live above Cafe Luxembourg and have been continually frustrated how they have expanded their seating in both directions on the street, far beyond where their business storefront ends length wise. Not to mention, their set up blocks the direct entrance to the street from my building. I’ve called 311 and the only thing they got dinged on was having a table too close to the door of my building.
I’m glad to have them for another year, and like them for permanent expansion on the sidewalk so long as people can get through. I love outdoor dining. But my impression is that the more space is reduced for MOVING vehicles (including cars trying to find parking), the more dangerous every other place becomes for pedestrians.
As some restaurants are well-situated and fortunate to be able to use additional public space – spreading out on sidewalks plus street sheds – for free, then here is a thought….
in exchange for the free sidewalk and street space, how about if those restaurants provide bathroom resources for food delivery workers?
Awesome news for our city! The streets are more alive than ever before. The setup will continue to improve if the program becomes permanent and strong design guidelines are developed. I think (hope) we can all agree that this is a better use of our public space than parking.
Regarding parking, please note that many West Side restaurant owners and managers park their cars on the street.
They drive in, have late commutes home, use cars to bring supplies to restaurants etc.
So, in other words, they’re not really business owners who are local. They make their money in our neighborhood and spend it elsewhere after they drive off. And this neighborhood has to accommodate THEIR car needs rather than those of people who actually live in the hood?
I hate this. I am a neighbor of a noisy bar that now has a hut in the street and it has become outrageously noisy. We are currently in a battle over the noise and the city doesn’t care about citizen’s ability to enjoy living in your home without music blaring, drunks yelling at each other and rude staff. I thought I could stay in this city but it has been made clear to me by the city and my councilwoman drunks being able to yell and scream in the street till the late hours outweighs my right to enjoy basic daily life.