Temporary Outdoor Dining Seating to Allow Social Distancing During COVID-19 Recovery
NYC’s Open Restaurant Program is an effort to implement a citywide multi-phase program to expand outdoor seating options for food establishments to promote open space, enhance social distancing, and help them rebound in these difficult economic times.
There are two options for temporary expanded outdoor dining:
- Open Restaurants – Individual food establishment may apply below and self-certify to use the sidewalk or curb lane adjacent to their business.
- Open Streets: Restaurants – Community based organizations, BIDs or groups of three (3) or more restaurants on a single block may join together to apply online for weekend-only outdoor dining on streets closed to traffic. More information and locations on the Open Streets: Restaurants program page.
These programs are designed to assist existing food establishments that have been authorized by the Governor of the State of New York to re-open under Phase Two and want to use outdoor areas on a temporary basis. This application is only for food establishments seeking permission to place outdoor seating in front of their establishment on the sidewalk and/or roadway. You do not need to apply to place outdoor seating on private property.
NYC's approach prioritizes geographic equity and allows us to reach the areas most impacted by COVID-19.
Outdoor Dining Area Siting Requirements
Please review the requirements to determine if your location qualifies to have an Open Restaurant sidewalk and/or roadway seating area.
Submitting an application is an acknowledgement that the establishment understands and agrees to all applicable terms and conditions and all applicable laws and guidance. If an establishment is not compliant, the City may revoke or suspend its authorization at any time during the program period.
- Seating and tables must be up against the wall of the business or as close as possible
- Sidewalk seating area may not exceed business frontage
- Must leave an 8' clear path for pedestrians
- Must be at least 3' from the adjacent business
- Cannot block subway grate, utility hardware or Siamese water connection
- Cannot block bus stop waiting area
- For clear path purposes, parking meters, traffic signs and tree pits with flush gratings (without tree guards) are exempt. All other above-grade structures are considered obstructions
- Tables and chairs must be provided by applicant
- Create a protective barrier, such as planters or objects of similar size and weight, on all three sides of the seating perimeter that are in the roadway, to separate seating from the travel lane. Such barriers must be at least 18” in width and 30-36” in height (excluding plantings) on all three sides that are in the roadway, to preserve visibility for motorists and provide protection for patrons (see Siting Criteria diagram)
- Place such barriers directly adjacent to each other (no gaps) and no more than 8’ from the curb (see Siting Criteria diagram)
- Roadway seating may not exceed the length of business frontage
- Ensure visibility of patrons and barriers at night by clearly marking all barriers with yellow high intensity retro-reflective tape or reflectors (see Siting Criteria diagram)
- Provide a ramp for ADA compliance, which can be made of non-permanent materials
- Not place seating or barriers within 15’ of a fire hydrant. Doing so jeopardizes fire safety for your fellow New Yorkers
- Not place seating or barriers within 8’ of a crosswalk, to provide for safe vehicle turns and avoid crowding
- Not provide any lighting that is blinding to passing traffic
- Not place seating within a No Stopping Anytime or No Standing Anytime zone, bike lane, bus lane/stop, taxi stand, or Car Share space
[Exception: For part-time No Stopping or No Standing zones, seating may be placed when those rules are not in effect. Barriers and seating must be removed from the roadway when No Stopping or No Standing is in effect]
- Only utilize umbrellas with a weighted base and such umbrellas may not extend past the barrier or obstruct access to or ventilation of utility covers
- Tables, chairs, and barriers must be provided by applicant
- Remove tables and chairs or secure them in place when not in operation
- Comply with NYC Fire Department Open Flame and other applicable Fire Codes
Restaurant owners may:
- Leave barriers in place within a metered zone, alternate side parking, or No Parking Anytime zone, provided that that tables and chairs are removed or secured when not in operation
- Where seating is authorized along a curb, install a platform behind the required barrier to flush height with curb to facilitate ADA compliance, prevent the curb from becoming a tripping hazard, and allow drainage to underpass seating
- Such platforms shall not block rain water drainage getting to the curb or flowing along the curb
- Such platforms shall not obstruct access to or ventilation of utility covers.
Prepare Documents to Self-Certify
Food establishments meeting NYC's Open Restaurants requirements, may apply for the program. Please have the following information available to apply:
- Business name (DBA), address and contact information
- Food Service Establishment Permit number
- Dimensions of sidewalk and/or roadway seating areas
Establishments planning to serve alcohol must also provide:
- State Liquor Authority ("SLA") serial number
- SLA license information
- Licensee certification
To speed up the approval process, NYC is allowing food establishments to self-certify that they meet program requirements.
For translation assistance with the application, please contact us online.
Open Restaurants Map & Dashboard
Find an Open Restaurant near you! Search the NYC Open Restaurants map and dashboard at nycopenrestaurants.info. Restaurants appear in this database as soon as they self-certify.
Once NYC is in Phase Two of reopening, food establishments that self-certified will receive an email from the City temporarily authorizing outdoor seating on the City’s sidewalk and/or roadway in front of the establishment, in accordance with all applicable terms and conditions, laws and guidance.
Upon submission of the application and selection of either or both outdoor seating options, establishments will fulfill all the requirements of the New York State Liquor Authority (“SLA”) for the “of right” extension and/or “Municipal” extension and no further filing with SLA will be required.
New York State:
- New York State Liquor Authority Guidance on Outdoor Expansion of Licensed Premises in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak
- New York State Department of Health’s Interim Guidance for Outdoor Service
New York City:
- NYC Open Restaurants Brochure (download and print)
- NYC Open Restaurants FAQ with Translations
- NYC Restaurant Reopening Guide
- Reopening Supplies Marketplace, including Physical Enhancements and Portable Furniture
- Information about Reopening NYC Businesses
- COVID-19: Guidance for Businesses
- Reopening NYC: FAQ - What Outdoor and Take-Out and Delivery Food Services Need to Know
- Con Edison Outdoor Dining Safety Requirements for Restaurants and Cafes
- Executive Order 126: Open Restaurants Program and the Expansion of Outdoor Seating in Phase 2
For help completing the application please call the SBS Hotline: 888-SBS-4NYC (888-727-4692). NYC launched this small business hotline to answer the most pressing questions of small business owners as they prepare to re-open. Small Business Advocates and Compliance Advisors will monitor the hotline and have been equipped with the latest guidelines and regulations to share with business owners.
For questions about the Open Restaurants program, self-certification process, or translation assistance with the application please contact us online.
NYC will rely on each establishment's compliance with all of these terms and conditions and all applicable guidance. If you want to report an issue, concern or violation about an Open Restaurant, please contact NYC311.
Looking for information about NYC’s Open Streets program? Visit NYC Open Streets.