NYC releases new rules for outdoor dining

Looks like we won't be eating outside during a blizzard any time soon.

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason
Content Director, The Americas
Photograph: Belmont Business Improvement District

Restaurants in the city have a fresh batch of rules to follow when it comes to their outdoor dining set-ups—and they hint at just what the city’s dining scene will look like when forced to face a fast approaching new environmental factor: snow. (Yes. The long winter is almost upon us.)

A new set of regulations published by the Department of Transportation this week is meant to help get restaurants ready for colder months. Mainly, the rules surround aspects of their physical structures that you may or may not notice while dining out. For instance, a majority of spots will now have to install extra protection in front of their roadway barriers facing traffic. Those additional safety features will need to be full of sand or soil and will require additional, brightly colored reflector tape, snow sticks and plastic barriers—all of which sounds reasonable if a bit messy.

However, the new rules also hint at what will happen to outdoor dining when it snows in the city. According to the new regulations, restaurants will be forced to close, bring in their heaters during winter-weather events and remove their overhead coverings. When the forecast calls for over 12 inches, they’ll have to “remove or consolidate” completely. 

So basically, in addition to creating more of a physical presence outside, restaurants must now make their set-ups more flexible and easy to remove in case of snowstorms. (Not that we think anyone would be that interested in dining outside during a blizzard in any case?) 

The new measures must be implemented by December 15.

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