Permanent Open Restaurants Text Amendment

People in outdoor seating at a restaurant
UPDATE: February 24, 2022 -- Approved

The City Council approved the Open Restaurants zoning text amendment on February 24, 2022. The new rules for outdoor dining went into effect on March 2, 2024.

New York City has created a permanent, streamlined Open Restaurants program, now called Dining Out NYC. As part of this program, the Department of City Planning and Department of Transportation removed geographic restrictions on where sidewalk cafes can be located within NYC from our city’s zoning laws.

The zoning amendment does not change the process for how sidewalk cafes are reviewed by local community boards. But, the areas where they can be considered now expands to all neighborhoods.

This zoning change complements other changes to cut red tape for restaurant owners. For example, applications for the sidewalk café program and a new roadway café program are now consolidated under one agency, the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Why are zoning changes needed for Permanent Open Restaurants?

During the COVID-19 ban on indoor dining, New York City suspended existing outdoor dining regulations, including zoning location rules. This emergency program provided a necessary lifeline for nearly 13,000 restaurants – and allowed New Yorkers to appreciate how streets can be activated by a robust, citywide outdoor dining program.

The zoning change makes thousands of restaurants eligible for a sidewalk café. It helps expand the benefits of outdoor dining to all New York City neighborhoods.

Benefits of a permanent Open Restaurants program

  • Remove outdated prohibitions on sidewalk cafes
  • Support outdoor dining in more areas of the city
  • Create jobs
  • Activate our streets
  • Simplify and streamline rules under a single agency with clear rules & enforcement mechanisms

For in-depth information about the zoning changes, read the City Planning Commission report here.