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NYC Issues Final Rules for Outdoor Dining Set-Ups

NYC Issues Final Rules for Outdoor Dining Set-Ups

In what is being called “the largest outdoor dining program in the country,” the City of New York recently issued the final rules for the permanent outdoor dining program “Dining Out NYC.” Restaurant owners planning to implement outdoor set-ups will need to comply with the new rules, which go into effect March 3.

The final rules attempt to balance customer desire for outdoor dining that began as a response to COVID-19 and increased revenue for owners with the need for enhanced sanitation and cleanliness. There is also a concerted effort to provide equitable access to outdoor dining spaces across all five boroughs.

Items of note in the final rules include:

  • Outdoor dining will be permitted year-round on sidewalks and from April 1-November 29 in roadways.
  • Permit fees will vary by location and setup size, and are anticipated to be significantly lower than under the previous sidewalk café program.
  • No more fully enclosed structures. Outdoor set-ups must be easy to break down and should maintain lines of sight.
  • Set-ups must be accessible. This means no flooring, no ground covering, and accessible seating, among other things.
  • Sidewalk paths must be clear.
  • Furniture and coverings must be easily movable.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) will open its Dining Out NYC online application portal in March. Restaurant owners will have 30 days from the date of application approval to comply with Dining Out NYC’s design requirements.

In order to apply, a food establishment must be:

  • A ground-floor food establishment that is visible from the street and directly accessible to the public from the street; and
  • Operated pursuant to a food service establishment permit issued by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH); and
  • In a permitted location pursuant to the Dining Out NYC rules.

Restaurants that are currently participating in the temporary Open Restaurants program will be allowed to continue operating while waiting for their final approval so long as they submit their application for the new program by August 30, 2024. If no application is submitted by that deadline, the restaurant will be required to remove their outdoor dining setups when the temporary program expires.

Additional Resources

Dining Out NYC FAQ
Official Dining Out NYC Rules
Step-by-Step Guide for Roadway Cafes
Step-by-Step Guide for Sidewalk Cafes