Tuesday, March 19, 2024

The city has issued new laws relating to outdoor seating structures for the New York hospitality industry. Starting from the 5th of March, ground-floor restaurants can apply for two types of outdoor dining permits under the new permanent outdoor dining program: roadside or sidewalk cafes. Restaurants who have got outdoor seating through the old program have to submit their applications by the 3rd of August if they wish to transition to the new program. Additionally, outdoor seating that does not comply with the new regulations needs to come down by November.

Some of the new regulations imply that roadside cafes:

  • Can only be placed within your restaurant’s frontage
  • Are only allowed from April to November
  • Can not be longer than 40 feet or wider than 8 feet
  • Need to have a 15 foot emergency travel lane adjacent to the cafe
  • Need to be placed clear of crosswalks, trees, MTA structures and pavement markings among others
  • Have a number of basic material restrictions where the base of all roadside cafes must be built through DOT approved materials (e.g. water-filled barriers) in order to:
    • Increase the safety of customers
    • Increase accessibility to everyone
    • Increase hygiene (e.g. being easier to clean, having improved water drainage and being able to prevent the harboring of pests)
    • Increase the ease to deconstruct and reconstruct the seating structure
    • (While the material restrictions for the core are strict, you can still customize your structure through cladding options)
  • Need to be ‘open-air’, fully enclosed ‘sheds’ are no longer allowed with restrictions being imposed on side barriers and screens.
Tonda outdoor seating
Tonda outdoor seating

Some of the regulations also imply that sidewalk cafes:

  • Must maintain at least 50% of the sidewalk width for pedestrians, with some variations based on the street type
  • Can only be the length of your restaurant's frontage
  • Can not be placed in the furnishing zone
  • Need to be placed clear of crosswalks, trees, MTA structures and pavement markings among others
  • Must clearly demarcate the perimeter of the cafe
  • Can not advertise on their structure, but can have the logo and brand name of the establishment

Because the regulations significantly change what structures are allowed, many restaurant owners would have to rebuild their outdoor seating structures. For the full information and guidance on compliance, visit Dining Out NYC where an interactive setup guide is available to assist you in building your new structure. Of course, we would be delighted to add quality signage to your outdoor seating, ensuring your business stands out from all directions.

We understand that these changes may require adjustments for many restaurant owners. We're here to support you through this transition and ensure your outdoor seating meets the new regulations.