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Will outdoor dining stay after the pandemic?

In early February, New York City Council’s two committees that oversee zoning and land use voted to favor zoning changes for permanent outdoor dining. This is the first step for NYC to have a permanent al fresco eatery program. Another vote by the entire 51 members of the Council is scheduled for February 24. 
Why do we need outdoor dining?  
Prior to the pandemic, restaurants in NYC were operated in narrow districting zones. An emergency Open Restaurant Program was introduced during COVID-19, allowing restaurants to use sidewalk adjacent and curbside roadway space in front of their establishments for outdoor dining. Outdoor dining was estimated to save about 100,000 restaurant jobs during the pandemic. 
What is the timeline to make outdoor dining permanent in NYC?
According to the city's website, legal actions will take place between fall 2021 and fall 2022, including an amendment to zoning text, changes to local law, rulemaking, design, and application details. Then, the permanent program application is scheduled to open in winter 2022 before it launches in 2023.  
What are the pushbacks for outdoor dining? 
Opposers to the permanent plan cited that sanitation, noise pollution, pedestrian safety, designing, accessibility, and enforcement were the primary concerns. Yet, both restauranteurs and customers want outdoor dining. A survey reveals that 95% of NYC restaurant operators believe outdoor dining was “very important” to their survival over the past two years. Moreover, 91% say permanent outdoor dining is “very important” to future survival. 
NYC is not alone
From San Francisco to NYC, restauranteurs nationwide want outdoor dining to stay after the pandemic. Some places like San Diego issue permits for outdoor dining for a fee. 
Outdoor dining is also known as “al fresco dining” or “dining alfresco.” The word “al fresco” is borrowed from Italian. Although “al fresco” actually means “in prison” or “spending time in jail” in Italian, outdoor dining is trendy in Europe, especially during the summertime. Do you want outdoor dining to stay permanent in the U.S. too? 

Note: This article was first published in Hospitality News Magazine (Feb/Mar). The picture was downloaded from


  1. I personally feel that restaurants should offer both indoor and outdoor dining. I believe outdoor dining was a significant way during the pandemic to avoid increasing unemployment rates and preventing restaurants from losing their businesses. The pandemic has caused outdoor dining to be normal for many people. Even as the COVID-19 cases are declining, some people may still have precautions and would prefer dining outdoor rather than indoors. By having both outdoor and indoor dining, it gives the guests the option to choose whether they would like to dine inside or outside. Therefore, I believe outdoor dining should stay permanent in the U.S.
    Elissa Konishi HRT 3500 Section #1.

  2. Maricela Avina 3500 section 1April 21, 2022 at 5:23 PM

    I would like outdoor dining to stay permanent in the U.S but I would also like the choice to be able to sit inside as well. Outdoor dining personally helped me with my anxiety when it came to eating out. I appreciated the fact that with outdoor seating I could still go out to my local restaurants and not be freaked out by all the people sitting around me. Thanks to outdoor dining we can sit in an open space and 6 ft apart from one another. Besides it’s nice to sit outside feel the breed and appreciate the nice weather occasionally.

  3. Ethan Campos HRT 3500 Section 1April 22, 2022 at 4:45 PM

    I would like to see outdoor dining incorporated into restaurants permanently after the pandemic. There are people who have grown to appreciate outdoor dining because that was the only option available for a long period of time, so a preference had been developed. Some people will feel more comfortable sitting in outdoor spaces to limit being inside with others out of precautions that they still choose to take. Realistically, if restaurants enforce a policy where all patrons that want to sit inside must be fully vaccinated, they can also have the space for guests outside for them to still be able to dine.

  4. Jillian Nunn HRT 3500 Section 2April 24, 2022 at 6:00 PM

    Outdoor dining has always been around for ambiance and for having a greater space for serving guests in restaurants. Then, when COVID-19 spread across the globe, restaurant dining temporarily closed. As the infection rates decreased and vaccines were introduced, restaurants were able to open up back again, but outdoor dining options were a necessity to generate profit, and serve customers safely. I would hope that outdoor dining would remain in restaurants. It is a new added feature that many have come to appreciate over the course of the pandemic. I know that in Claremont, CA, the mom and pop shops got permission to build outdoor seating areas over parking spaces in front of their restaurant. They paid for this out of pocket so that they could serve their loyal customers safely. And yet, citizens of Claremont now wish those businesses to remove their seating areas to open up more parking spaces.

  5. Monique Navares HRT 3500 Section 1April 24, 2022 at 9:50 PM

    I believe that outdoor seating will stay long after the pandemic is over. People have felt more comfortable and learned to appreciate the option of dining outside with the proper social distancing. While outdoor dining has always been available for major restaurants, smaller restaurants with limited seating have had to accommodate the new health protocols in order to keep their business running. Having an outdoor seating area could have benefited their business because they can seat more people and also those who walk by will be able to see what the restaurant is serving and will eventually attract more customers.

  6. Personally, I really like having the option of being able to eat outdoors if the restaurant offers outdoor seating. I believe that outdoor seating should stay regardless of the covid pandemic status. Aside from benefiting restaurants with higher sales and revenue, outdoor seating allows for guests to feel comfortable dining out - making them feel as if they do not have to be so close to other guests. Additionally, having this option of seating gives restaurants the opportunity to have more tables to be able to seat/serve more guests. Those that do not wish to sit outside are still able to request dining inside while individuals who do not mind to be seated indoors or outdoors can have the option of both. If restaurants have the ability and space to have outdoor seating, they should definitely consider doing so.
    Laura Montes HRT 3500 Section 2

  7. Junyi Xie HRT 3500-02April 25, 2022 at 2:19 PM

    COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses, lifestyles, and how people conduct their general activities. Businesses and activities requiring crowds have been negatively affected as many people resolved to stay at home and maintain social distance for their health and safety. For restaurants, I believe relocation to open places has been ideal for keeping its customers safe. Outdoor dining has successfully ensured that there is social distancing, enough ventilation, and avoidance of crowds. However, it demands a lot of space, which is expensive. I do not believe that outdoor dining will be made permanent because it is not easy to find enough open space to accommodate the hundreds of restaurants in town. However, it can be implemented on regulation and for a certain period.

  8. Alexys Zamora HRT 3500 Section #2April 25, 2022 at 6:35 PM

    I personally do not think outdoor dining is a good idea, especially for New York where it is already extremely crowded and is notorious for pollution and noise. Although it has helped many businesses for the time being, it is not a sustainable practice because the United States overall is overpopulated. Permanent outdoor dining would make areas even more crowded and polluted than they already are. Maybe temporary outdoor dining when weather permits, but even then it should be very limited. It also could bring potential liabilities for owners because they have to consider external factors such as weather and the passerby.

  9. Kevin Morales HRT 3500 Section #2April 25, 2022 at 7:21 PM

    I think outdoor dining is one best and safest options during the pandemic. I honestly did not mind the drastic change to outdoor dining during the pandemic. Although I didn't like dining outdoors during the winter season since it would get so cold. I remember some restaurants did not provide any heaters and simply had tents to avoid any cold air coming through the tent. Now that restaurants are fully opening back up we have the option to dine inside or dine outdoors. I'm glad we have an option to dine in or dine outdoors because it can reduce wait times for seating. I think outdoor dining should stay regardless of the pandemic since we all have adapted to it these past two years.

  10. I think that the addition of outdoor dining was a great idea especially for the smaller businesses that didn’t have a big enough space or a space at all to begin with. The additional space brings them more opportunities and the concerns about safety I think are not that prevalent because most of those spaces are barricaded and very easy to see for the incoming cars. This visibility is also very helpful for the business because it can lead to more people noticing the place even if they haven’t seen it before. It also adds to the ambience I have seen places that look way better with the outside decorations and it also appeases the people that still feel unsafe with the covid virus still around. Josue Barbosa Pastrano HRT 3500 Section #1

  11. Jamie Yi HRT 3500-02April 25, 2022 at 9:38 PM

    For my personal experience, I did not mind outdoor dining during the pandemic. I remember many restaurants would also decorate the outside to look like the inside of the restaurant as well. When the weather was nice, it would be good to eat outdoors. I would want outdoor dining to be permanent in the US. It is a good option to give customers, so they are allowed to decide whether they want to eat outside or inside. After the pandemic, I feel like a good amount of people have gotten used to outdoor dining, so it would not hurt to keep it. There are some restaurants with small indoor seating and small street sides that may be overcrowded, but regardless, I think we should keep outdoor dining permanent.

  12. For me, California weather is not a year-round option outdoors. A well-ventilated room doesn't need to be particularly worried about the spread of viruses, and I can accept eating outdoors when the weather is comfortable. For restaurants, I think adding outdoor dining is a necessary option that presents a greater challenge for restaurants, but attracts more customers from their phones. COVID has changed a lot, but restaurants are still made up of the same weight of service and merchandise. Outdoor dining gives servers a longer route to move, but it's much better than a take-out where the customer usually spends less or nothing.

  13. I truly need to thank the creator for a particularly decent blog that assisted me with understanding why it is significant. Outdoor Dining


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