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Morning Spew

As NYC Winters Get Warmer, NYC Lawmakers Kill Winter Outdoor Dining

And other links to start your extremely temperate Monday in February.

8:29 AM EST on February 5, 2024

(Hell Gate)

This afternoon will be clear and sunny, with temperatures getting to the mid-forties. Over the weekend, we'll even see temperatures rise to the mid-fifties during the middle of the day. A scary herald of climate change for such seasonable weather in early February? Absolutely. Nice weather to enjoy a meal outdoors or a cup of coffee or soup? For sure. 

But enjoy eating and drinking outside in the winter while it lasts. Beginning this summer, outdoor dining in New York City can only happen between April 1 to November 29, thanks to new rules finalized by City Hall on Friday by a group of elected officials who care more about freeing up on-street parking than almost anything else. Under these new rules, outdoor dining structures must be fully removable, lack any heating structures, and they cannot be enclosed or have a roof to protect you from a rain shower. Restaurants must also find storage for their outdoor dining setups overnight, as well as during the off-season, something small restaurant owners have pointed out is infeasible

The regulations take effect March 3, and restaurants have until August 3 to apply for new permits or take down their existing dining structures—the same setups that saved thousands of jobs during the pandemic and cost restaurant owners thousands of dollars, as the City dispatched of its arcane and limited outdoor dining laws.

"Once it comes down, it's down. There’s no way I can put it back up. I can't afford to pay someone to take it down. I can't afford to store it, and I certainly can't afford to rebuild it every year," Samantha DiStefano, the owner of Mama Fox in Bed-Stuy, told Hell Gate last year, when the regulations were first announced. "There is just no scenario in which this is doable for a small business. I’m sure there are large restaurant groups that have no trouble shelling out 40, 50, 60 grand to do it, but that's not our situation."

And while seasonable weather might be sticking around longer and longer, COVID-19 is also here to stay. The ceaselessly mutating virus is continuing its winter surge, leaving immuno-compromised people vulnerable. Thanks to the City Council, between December and March, these people won't be able to avail themselves of one of the more effective public health strategies against the spread of this virus: comfortably having a meal outside. 

Sure, some larger restaurants will have enough resources to pay for a license and for storage solutions for their setups. But the golden age of outdoor dining, sometimes messy, but overall beautiful and city-changing, is over. Free car storage reigns supreme once more. 

And here are some links that will be open year-round: 

And finally… The 2026 World Cup final is coming to New York….errr…we mean….New Jersey. Errr, a third place, actually, New York New Jersey:

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