New York City, NY

Photos: NYC Outdoor Dining Structures Range from Cozy to Creepy

NYC x BK

New York City - At the beginning of July, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo extended the outdoor dining plan for another year. The new law allowed restaurants to continue using sidewalks and streets to serve their customers.

By extending the much-needed lifeline that allowed restaurants to use outdoor public spaces for seating during the pandemic, New York is ensuring that these small businesses will be able to continue to use these spaces as they work to rebuild and support the revitalization of the Empire State.

How do regular New Yorkers feel about this extension? Well, it’s complicated. Pre-pandemic, many of us enjoyed the proliferation of outdoor dining during the summer months. With diners spilling out onto the sidewalks, the city appeared more lively and inviting.

Outdoor dining is a beautiful thing. However, the year-round, semi-permanent outdoor dining structures are another matter. There are rules in place, but none of them account for aesthetics. Unfortunately, so far, even the nicest outdoor dining structures have design issues.

If outdoor dining becomes permanent in New York City, as Mayor Bill de Blasio declared last year, one would hope that the regulations would go beyond basic safety measures. At some point, we will have to consider the eyesore, not to mention other concerns over land use.

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Ritz Bar in ManhattanMelissa Toldy

On 46th street in Manhattan, Ritz Bar's rainbow banner looks right at home, amid the colorful tents lining the block. As part of NYC's Open Streets program, Restaurant Row benefits from zero car traffic on a Saturday afternoon.

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7th Avenue Outdoor Dining StructureMelissa Toldy

But then look at this sad structure on 7th Avenue, below 23rd Street. Are the tables abandoned?

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Thai Chella outdoor dining in Hell's KitchenMelissa Toldy

At first glance, the dining area outside Thai Chella in Hell's Kitchen looks cute. Like your own private greenhouse. But why is it sitting on wheels?

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That Bar outdoor dining in Park Slope, BrooklynMelissa Toldy

This outdoor dining structure on Park Slope's 5th Avenue has been improved with a local artist's touch.

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Swing 46 outdoor dining with live musicMelissa Toldy

Swing 46 on Restaurant Row amped up their outdoor dining experience with some live music.

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Meatball Shop outdoor diningMelissa Toldy

A sign on Meatball Shop's outdoor dining structure labels it the "Love Shack." And yet, no one seems to prefer this seating area. The sidewalk tables were full.

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Pasta Louise outdoor dining in BrooklynMelissa Toldy

Pasta Louise in Brooklyn is one restaurant that built out their outdoor dining structure with a beautiful display of floral decorations and lights.

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9th Avenue outdoor dining structures in ManhattanMelissa Toldy

Strangely, there are many outdoor structures in Manhattan that sit on the other side of bike paths, as seen in the photo above.

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Eataly outdoor diningMelissa Toldy

In the Flatiron District, Eataly set up these enclosed outdoor dining structures last winter.

How do you feel about the outdoor dining structures in your neighborhood? Have you enjoyed eating at your favorite restaurant in their new hut or tent? Do you want outdoor dining to become a permanent fixture?

No matter how you feel about the outdoor dining structures in New York City, burning them down is not advisable.

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