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DOT Launches Permit Applications for New Outdoor Dining Program

During the Covid-19 pandemic, New York City established the Temporary Open Restaurants Program which helped many struggling NYC restaurants survive by allowing them to continue to serve customers while following social distancing guidelines through the use of outdoor dining setups. On March 5th, New York City Mayor Adams announced the City’s new permanent outdoor dining program, "Dining Out NYC”, which will replace the previous Temporary Open Restaurants program. Read on for an overview of what you need to know to meet compliance.

New York has finally emerged on the other side of the pandemic, however, restaurant sheds remain a big part of the NYC dining scene. Therefore, the Department of Transportation (DOT) recently launched a permanent outdoor dining program called "Dining Out NYC". 

Introducing Dining Out NYC

The new Dining Out NYC program features revised rules for restaurant owners that aim to address the main complaints about the previous pandemic-era program - i.e. sanitation, safety, and visual appearance.

The DOT began accepting permit applications in the Dining Out NYC portal on March 5, 2024. All restaurants currently participating in the Temporary Open Restaurants program will have to apply to the portal by August 3, 2024 to keep their outdoor dining setups in operation and avoid incurring violations.

The Dining Out NYC program features a revised permit application process that involves a stricter review period that could take from five to six months. After receiving approval, restaurants will be given thirty days to comply with the program’s new design requirements.

Dining Out NYC offers restaurant businesses with two options for their outdoor dining setups:

1. Roadway Cafes  (permitted April through November)


2. Sidewalk Cafes (permitted year round).

Roadway Cafes

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Roadway Cafes are outdoor eating setups that can only be placed in various types of parking spaces, or no parking areas. These Roadway Cafes may not be placed in what is considered a “Travel Lane” such as a bus lane or bike lane. The area of this café must also be located within a restaurant’s frontage and has a maximum  length of 40 feet in most situations. The maximum width is listed as 8 feet, but this is subject to change on a per case basis.

Sidewalk Cafes

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Sidewalk Cafes follow slightly different guidelines than those given for Roadway Cafes. Instead of being on the road within parking spaces, Sidewalk Cafes are located on the sidewalk directly within the restaurant’s frontage. This particular type of outdoor dining may not extend past the restaurant’s frontage in any situation, while the allowed width will be based on the required clear path in front of the restaurant.

Application Process 411

Both Sidewalk Cafes and Roadway Cafes will require receiving a license and revocable consent from the DOT. Each item will have a four-year term.

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Among the application requirements is a Site Plan and Drawings that accurately depict required clearances, the space occupied by the outdoor dining structure, and placement of tables, chairs, barriers, and vertical elements. It’s important to note that proper due diligence and zoning analysis should be performed in order to streamline the permit approval process and prevent unnecessary delays that could lead to a loss in business revenue.

Need Help? Leverage our DOT Expertise

Need assistance? The DOT experts at Milrose and JM Zoning are here for you! Please click here or fill out the form below you are interested in learning more about our Dining Out NYC permit application service.