NYC DOT Accepting Applications For Permanent Outdoor Dining

In accordance with Local Law No. 121 of 2023, the New York City Department of Transportation released its final rules relating to its Dining Out NYC Program for permanent sidewalk and street seating.  As of today, March 5, 2024, DOT opened its portal to accept applications under those rules. These rules replace the 2020 temporary Open Restaurants program, and all restaurants that have permits under the COVID-era program are required to file with DOT for new permits by no later than August 3, 2024.  All new applicants who have ground floor interior space are eligible and may file an application with DOT. The application must include a petition which is available on the DOT website, a site plan showing all required clearances, photographs, property owner consent and certification from the applicant that they have entered into a contract for pest control for the outdoor area. Applicants must also have a Health Department permit. Once DOT receives an application, notice is given to the local community board which has the right to comment. If they oppose the application, DOT will conduct a public hearing.  Unenclosed sidewalk and roadway cafes may only operate until midnight, and alcohol may be served only if permitted by the New York State Liquor Authority.  No music or smoking is permitted in the outdoor space. Roadway cafes must be dismantled between November 30th and March 31st.  Sidewalk cafes must have a perimeter demarcation, such as a base wall, planter, fence, or stanchions with ropes. It may not be erected on any platform or flooring. The code has specific required measurements and clearances to curbs, tree beds, subway grates, fire hydrants, and other objects. DOT estimates that approval times for applications will be approximately six months.