Open Restaurants

Updates to the Open Restaurants Program

On September 25, 2020, NYC announced that the popular Open Restaurants program will be made permanent, and restaurants will be permitted to use heating and enclosures, and expand seating to adjacent properties with neighbors’ consent. Specific guidance is forthcoming.

The City will work with the City Council to make the regulatory changes necessary to make the program permanent.

Adjacent Properties

  • The City will allow restaurants to expand seating to the frontage of adjacent properties, as long as the adjacent property owners formally agree to the use of the space for a specified period of time and commit not to charge a fee for its use
  • The City will work with the State Liquor Authority (SLA) on any requirements associated with extending alcohol service to the expanded seating in front of adjacent properties
  • In early October, NYC DOT will issue a template agreement and provide instructions on how to file the agreements
  • Adjacent properties may not be used prior to the release of official instructions and formal agreements

Heating

  • As cooler weather arrives, the City will allow restaurants to incorporate heating elements into their outdoor dining setups
  • Electrical heaters will be allowed on both sidewalk and roadway
  • Propane and natural gas heaters will be allowed on sidewalks only; they will remain prohibited in roadway seating
  • Propane will require a permit from FDNY and compliance with FDNY regulations for outdoor use, handling and secure outdoor tank storage overnight
  • Official guidance on what will be considered approved installation and use of heating elements will be released before the end of September, and restaurants are prohibited from installing heating elements until guidelines are released and followed

Tents

  • Restaurants will also be permitted to use tent enclosures to keep diners warm
  • In partial tent enclosures, at least 50% of the tent’s side wall surface area must remain open and electrical heaters are allowed
  • In full tent enclosures, the tent’s side walls may be closed but occupancy limitations will be capped at 25% of capacity, and indoor dining guidelines must be followed; electrical heaters will also be allowed
  • Enclosed structures, such as plastic domes, will be allowed for individual parties and must have adequate ventilation to allow for air circulation

Roadway Safety

  • As the program’s duration will now continue through the winter months, and winter weather creates potential for inclement weather to impact road conditions, the City will engage the restaurant industry and other stakeholders to develop additional safety features to further strengthen roadway barriers
  • To ensure timely implementation, the City will require restaurant owners to comply with new safety features by November 15, 2020
  • In addition, significant snow events may necessitate the temporary removal of some barriers from the roadway

Apply to be an Open Restaurant

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 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, with the option to expand in front of adjacent properties with owner's approval.
  • 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 outdoor dining on streets closed to traffic. More information and locations on the Open Streets: Restaurants program page.

This application is only for food establishments seeking permission to place outdoor seating in front of their establishment on the sidewalk and/or roadway in, with the option to expand in front of adjacent properties with owner’s approval. 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

DRAFT diagram to show outdoor dining specifications for sidewalk seating and curbside seating at an Open Restaurant

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.

NYC DOT may immediately revise, terminate or suspend, for a period of time and without prior notice, the seating area usage based on valid complaints, lack of ADA access, need for repairs, or for any other reason.

Sidewalk Seating

  • 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

Roadway Seating

Restaurants must:

  • 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 exceed the length of business frontage into adjacent frontage only with the formal approval from adjacent owner
  • 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 or tents or other shelters, not to exceed 400 SF (square feet) in total or fully enclose the seating area, which follow manufacturers installation instructions to secure the tents properly and safely. Areas of multiple tents that are combined or are tied to each other cannot exceed 400 SF in total. All such umbrellas and tents may not extend past the barrier, obstruct access to or ventilation of utility covers, or obstruct clear paths. Umbrellas and tents should not be used during inclement weather such as high wind condition. Sign up for a Weather Advisory Subscription. Refer to the DOB 2020-013 Bulletin.
  • Restaurants will also be permitted to use tent enclosures to keep diners warm
  • In partial tent enclosures, at least 50% of the tent’s side wall surface area must remain open and electrical heaters are allowed
  • In full tent enclosures, the tent’s side walls may be closed but occupancy limitations will be capped at 25% of capacity, and indoor dining guidelines must be followed; electrical heaters will also be allowed
  • Enclosed structures, such as plastic domes, will be allowed for individual parties and must have adequate ventilation to allow for air circulation
  • As cooler weather arrives, the City will allow restaurants to incorporate heating elements into their outdoor dining setups
  • Electrical heaters will be allowed on both sidewalk and roadway
  • Propane and natural gas heaters will be allowed on sidewalks only; they will remain prohibited in roadway seating
  • Propane will require a permit from FDNY and compliance with FDNY regulations for outdoor use, handling and secure outdoor tank storage overnight
  • Official guidance on what will be considered approved installation and use of heating elements will be released before the end of September, and restaurants are prohibited from installing heating elements until guidelines are released and followed
  • 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.

Video: Open Restaurants Roadway Seating Walk-Through


開放餐廳路面座位示範(中文字幕)- Chinese Subtitles Restaurantes Abiertos guía para áreas de asientos en la calzada (subtítulos en español) - Spanish Subtitles For an audio described version of this video in English, please visit: https://youtu.be/130xTlwVYl8

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

Apply Online

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.

Next Steps

Food establishments that self-certified will receive an email from the City authorizing outdoor seating on the City’s sidewalk and/or roadway in front of the establishment, with the option to expand in front of adjacent property with owner’s approval, 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.

Resources

New York State:

New York City:

Contact Us

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.