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October 20th, 2020
New York City Expands Open Restaurants Program
Here’s important news for New York chefs and restaurateurs. New York City has recently made permanent its Open Restaurant Program. Under this program, restaurants are now permitted to use heating and enclosures, and expand seating to adjacent properties with neighbors’ consent. While indoor dining is also permitted, it is subject to different guidelines: restaurant owners must limit indoor dining to 25% capacity; conduct temperature checks at every front door; collect test and trace data from at least one customer at each table; and close bar tops for seating. Below is a summary of the outdoor heating, adjacent properties, and enclosures guidelines.
Subject to guidance issued by the New York City Fire Department of New York (FDNY), New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and Mayor de Blasio, restaurants participating in the Open Restaurants program have the following three options to provide heat for their outdoor seating areas:
1. Electric radiant heaters are permitted in sidewalk and roadway seating setups.
2. Natural gas radiant heaters are permitted on the sidewalk only and must comply with the New York City Fire Code.
3. Portable propane heaters are permitted on the sidewalk only, and are regulated by the FDNY, with requirements for safe handling, use and storage.
Once guidance is issued by the New York City DOT, New York City restaurants may expand seating to the frontage of adjacent properties, provided that they enter into a formal agreement with the adjacent property owners for a specified period of time and the adjacent property owner is not permitted to charge a fee for use of its property. New York City and the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) will work together to regulate alcohol service in expanded seating in front of adjacent properties.
Restaurants will be permitted to use tent enclosures to keep diners warm, subject to the following restrictions:
- Partial tent enclosures: at least 50% of the tent’s side wall surface area must remain open and electrical heaters are allowed.
- Full tent enclosures: the tent’s side walls may be closed, electric heaters are allowed, occupancy is limited to 25% of capacity, and indoor dining guidelines must be followed.
- Enclosed structures (e.g., plastic domes): these are allowed for individual parties but must have adequate ventilation to allow for air circulation.
5.N.Y.C. Council Intro. No.2127-2020 and https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/715-20/recovery-agenda-new-york-city-releases-winter-outdoor-dining-guidance
9.NYC DOT will issue a template agreement and provide instructions on how to file the agreements.
Other Restaurant Law Alerts
Federal Court Says Supervisors May Participate in Tip Sharing
On November 21, 2013, the Second Circuit in New York issued a decision in Barenboim v. Starbucks, interpreting § 196-d of New York's Labor Law, which prohibits an employer, his or her agent or an officer of a corporation from retaining any part of a gratuity. Read more.
December 2 2013