NEW YORK (PIX11) — Outdoor dining will be permanent in New York City, with certain guidelines. That’s what a New York City Council vote on Thursday afternoon concluded, after months of debate and consideration.
The measure will allow licensed outdoor dining structures to be on the streets in front of restaurants from April through November each year. Sidewalk dining will be allowed, with a permit, year-round.
The measure was meant to address complaints about unsightly and abandoned dining structures, while also allowing on-the-street dining sheds where they’ve been welcomed.
One of the welcomed dining sheds is at the corner of Reade and Church streets in Tribeca, in front of 1803 NYC restaurant.
Tal Lavi is the owner of the Cajun-style bistro. He said that to call his dining shed a shed — with its heated floors, electric fans, full sound system, and mood lighting — is kind of an understatement.
“A lot went into it,” said the restaurateur, “in terms of investment, time, money, thought, decoration.”
He said that he had mixed feelings about the new outdoor dining legislation. It applies to the 12,000 dining sheds citywide, including his, and has been led by Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez, the chair of the Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection.
“We’re bringing New York City forward in this dining world,” she said in an interview about the new legislation on Thursday afternoon.
Under the new measure, dining structures will be allowed to remain in the street, with a permit, from April 1 through Nov. 30 every year. They will have to be dismantled in the cold months and set up again, yearly.
Lavi, the restaurateur, is one of many who said that the new rules won’t work for them.
“That’s a death penalty to this,” he said. “Nobody’s going to do it. This thing can’t go down just like that,” he said, pointing at his in-street dining structure. “If it [does],” he continued, “it’ll go in the garbage, because it’s built to be strong.”
Concerns like his are part of the reason why the new measure will have a months-long period of hearings and further public input before being finalized next year.
Councilmember Sean Abreu, who was among the votes on the Consumer Committee that helped to pass the measure, said that it will be vital to work out the details in the months ahead.
Abreu said that he and some fellow City Council members are “already exploring ways to see how we can grandfather businesses that have already built these structures, so they don’t have to pay for or take on that loss” of rebuilding them every year.
For now, the public input comes from the streets of the city. Some people who spoke with PIX11 News about the situation said that some of the city’s dining sheds are in disrepair and can attract vermin. It was all a reminder that feelings on the issue can be mixed.
“Some of the sheds are really hideous,” said Sormeh Naderi, a West Village resident. “But if they do make it work and presentable,” she continued, “then I like it.”
Another resident, Chris Fuller, said that preserving the dining sheds was vital to life in the city.
“I’m on the side of keeping them up,” he said, adding that he doesn’t own a car, so having dining facilities in the street doesn’t negatively impact him. “I’d rather have places to eat than parking spots,” he said.