Updates to the Open Restaurants Program
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.
- 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
- 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
- The City will allow restaurants to incorporate heating elements into their outdoor dining setups
- Learn more about approved heating elements in FAQ 33
- As the program’s duration will now continue through the winter months, new safety enhancements are required to in order for roadway seating areas to better withstand the stresses that winter may bring – such as slippery roads, snow removal operations, and snow piles pushing against barricades
- To ensure timely implementation, some of these new safety features are required by December 15, 2020
- In addition, significant snow events may necessitate the temporary removal of some barriers from the roadway
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
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.
- All items for outdoor dining (i.e. tables, chairs, heaters) must be up against the wall of the business or as close as possible; they may not infringe upon or otherwise impede the 8’ pedestrian clear path
- 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
- Comply with NYC Fire Department Open Flame and other applicable Fire Codes
- Remove tables and chairs or secure them in place when not in operation
- Tables, chairs, and barriers must be provided by applicant
*Important: Adjustments in bold are required by December 15, 2020 Sandbags, reflector tape, snow sticks, and plastic barriers will be available to all participants, free of charge. Participating restaurants will be emailed with distribution and pickup detail. Limited deliveries of plastic barriers will be made to the “high priority” restaurants; those restaurants will be contacted separately.
- 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
- 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)
- All 18” roadway barriers must be completely filled with soil or sand
- Barriers must have a fully built interior wall and bottom to hold filler material
- Continuous reflector tape must be added along the top outside edges, and snow sticks must be added to the corners of the two barriers facing traffic
- A plastic water-filled barrier in front of the roadway barrier facing oncoming traffic will be required for a majority of restaurants; “high priority” restaurants for whom a water-filled barrier will be required will be identified based on the street’s crash rates and traffic volumes, as well as if it’s a truck route. These restaurants will be contacted separately to confirm this requirement applies to them. For all other restaurants, similarly placed water-filled barriers are highly recommended
- 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]
Tents & Enclosures:
- 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.
- Refer to NYC DOB’s 2020-017 Bulletin for information about when permits are required (issued October 14, 2020)
- Umbrellas and tents should not be used during inclement weather such as high wind condition. Sign up for a Weather Advisory Subscription
- New York State outdoor dining guidelines permit installing a temporary or fixed cover (i.e. awning, roof or tent):
- If two (2) or more side walls are open, and at least one is parallel to the roadway, you may operate following all outdoor dining guidelines (i.e. 6’ between tables, no more than 10 people seated at one table)
- If three (3) side walls or more are in use, the occupancy limit will be capped at 25 percent capacity, and all indoor dining guidelines must be followed
- Enclosed structures, such as plastic domes, will be allowed for individual parties and must have adequate ventilation to allow for air circulation
- For restaurants with roof structures, the city will be releasing tips and guidance on how to make them secure, as well as quick action to remove snow from roofs, awnings, and tents
- The City will allow restaurants to incorporate heating elements into their outdoor dining setups, learn more about approved heating elements in FAQ 33
- Only electrical heaters are allowed within the roadway setups
- Additional restrictions apply to restaurants in New York State Hot Spot Zones
- During an active snow alert:
- Diners may not sit in roadway setups. Please remove or secure any tables and chairs
- All electrical heaters in roadway set ups must be removed
- If possible, restaurants should remove any overhead coverings. At minimum, please regularly remove the snow from overhead coverings until the snow alert ends
- When high winds are expected, restaurants should take all precautionary measures to anchor objects in the outdoor seating area such as umbrellas, tents, tables and chairs, or bring them inside
- If 12” or more of snow is forecast, restaurants must also:
- Remove or consolidate your roadway setups to have as small a footprint as possible along the curb
- If you’re unable to remove or consolidate your roadway setup, you are encouraged to take steps to protect your asset from damage due to snow removal operations. The Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has conducted training exercises that included simulated snow removal operations on narrow streets with roadway setups on both sides. DSNY will conduct targeted outreach to restaurants to ensure setups meet NYC DOT siting criteria and that roads can be efficiently plowed and remain passable
- Use your snow sticks to increase visibility of your setup components if they are moved
- You may sign up to receive snow alerts and all snow-related updates through Notify NYC. To sign up for Notify NYC, call 311, visit www.nyc.gov/notifynyc, or follow @NotifyNYC on Twitter
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
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.
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.
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 Winter Brochure (download and print)
- Download the NYC Open Restaurants Winter Brochure in Spanish (pdf)
- Plastic Water-Filled Barriers: How-To’s (pdf)
- DSNY Guidance for Open Restaurants During Winter Weather and Snow Alerts
- NYC Open Restaurants Brochure (download and print) - Specific guidance is forthcoming
- NYC Open Restaurants FAQ with Translations
- Roadway Seating Checklist (pdf) - Specific guidance is forthcoming
- What to Expect When You’re Inspected: NYC Indoor and Outdoor Dining Checklist (pdf)
- NYC Restaurant Reopening Guide
- Design Corps is Connecting Open Restaurants with Free Designers & Architects to Help Design Outdoor Dining
- 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
- National Grid Outdoor Dining Safety Guide (pdf)
- Executive Order 126: Open Restaurants Program and the Expansion of Outdoor Seating in Phase 2
- Executive Order 153: Open Restaurants May Utilize Temporary Outdoor Heaters in Outdoor Dining Areas
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.