NYC to Engage Public and Restaurant Owners to Create Design Guidelines for Open Restaurants

NYC to Engage Public and Restaurant Owners to Create Design Guidelines for Open Restaurants

     The Open Restaurants Program, an innovation of the COVID pandemic, proved so popular that New York City wants to make it permanent.

     Just in time for spring, the Department of City Planning (DCP) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) will solicit input from New Yorkers and restaurant owners to create “design rules,” that will guide permanent outdoor dining setups on busy city streets. 

     “To get it right, we need input from the public: you,” said Anita Laremont, DCP’s director, who said the design engagement process will take six months. “So please, get involved and let’s make the Open Restaurants program even better.”

     In Boro Park, residents may want to broach how restaurants could create outside dining spaces on the roadway, while taking over as few precious parking spaces as possible. 

     While sidewalk cafes follow long-established criteria, such as “clear path” requirements, which ensure that tables and chairs are placed at appropriate distances from both fire hydrants, bus stops, and neighboring businesses, the emergency of “roadway dining” has posed new questions about how to best integrate the sometimes intricate and beautiful larger outdoor structures into the dynamic environment of New York City streets. 

     “Getting design right is among the most important elements of our coming Open Restaurants program: for our health and safety, and for our enjoyment of New York City’s public realm,” said Laremont.

     "I am proud to have sponsored legislation authorizing the Open Streets Program which extended a lifeline to restaurants at a time when they needed it the most, during the COVID pandemic, while also reimagining public space in a way that better serves the public,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, who is the Democratic nominee to serve as Brooklyn's borough president. “While the program has already been a huge success, we can now make it even better by fine tuning the design requirements.”

     “Open Restaurants not only helped save New York’s world-renowned restaurant industry, but it also showed how we can dynamically re-imagine our streetscapes,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “Developing design guidelines will ensure that this emergency program can be transformed into a permanent part of our city: anchoring restaurants in our communities so that this program continues to flourish.”

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