When our city’s restaurants and nightlife were shut down due to the pandemic, the NYC Hospitality Alliance co-authored an op-ed with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, in which we called for a transformative enhancement and expansion of outdoor dining because indoor dining was mandated to close. Shortly thereafter, we joined Mayor de Blasio at City Hall for a press conference announcing the Open Restaurants, outdoor dining program, which allowed eating and drinking establishments to serve customers on sidewalks and roadway areas in front of their establishments. Businesses could setup almost immediately and pay no fee to the City to participate. The number of participating businesses jumped to approximately 11,000, from just over 1,000 enrolled in the city’s traditional sidewalk café program and was responsible for providing employment to about 100,000 New Yorkers who lost their jobs at the beginning of the pandemic. The program also generates critically important tax revenue for the city and state, it brought a vibrancy back to the desolate city streets and allowed people to leave their homes after being stuck inside for months to socialize safely while enjoying great food, drink and hospitality.
The Open Restaurants program was so popular that a provision was included in legislation we advocated for extending this temporary program and creating a permanent version of outdoor dining. The NYC Hospitality Alliance is deeply involved in developing a permanent program with the City and will advocate to create the best permanent outdoor dining program possible. We are incredibly grateful for your support and feedback in creating one of the most monumental, beneficial and popular programs that reimagines New York City’s outdoor space in recent history.
Image by Emily Andrews for Rockwell Group