NYC restauranteurs blast mayor’s ‘equitable’ outdoor dining program after spending thousands during pandemic

Mayoral meddling once again irked Big Apple businesses as the city rolled out their new “equitable” outdoor dining program expected to cost some tens of thousands of dollars.

As it was during the height of COVID, the contrast between New York and Florida was on full display Friday when New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) released the final rules for a permanent program dubbed “Dining Out NYC.”

While pushing claims about saving thousands of jobs throughout the city when draconian measures had shuttered many businesses for good, the new plan left many concerned about the burden of added costs as Hizzoner bragged about “lessons learned.”

“Between Dining Out NYC, our campaign to get trash bags off of New York City streets, our efforts to remove scaffolding that has been up for far too long, and the hundreds of millions we’re investing in public realm projects across the city, we’re fundamentally transforming what it feels like to be outside in New York,” Adams said in statement.

“As we build the largest outdoor dining program in the country from the ground-up,” he added, “we must center our efforts in equity to make sure every New Yorker in every borough and every neighborhood has the opportunity to enjoy our city.”

According to the press release, “The new program draws on lessons learned from the temporary outdoor dining program created during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saved 100,000 jobs across the city but led to quality-of-life issues as a subset of restaurant owners were unable to maintain loosely regulated outdoor dining setups.”

The plan outlined an “equitable, accessible fee structure,” for participating restaurants based on their size and location. Additionally, the program called for all outdoor seating to have a “lighter-weight” and be “easy to assemble and break down” where the strictly temporary structures would have to be removed from the streets from Nov. 30 – March 31.

“It cost us $36,000 to put it up, and it would not cost as much to throw it away,” Uncle Paul’s pizza owner Dino Redzic told CBS News, “but to rebuild it — I don’t think you can re-use any of these materials. I think we will be all for it, to pay a fee to the city just to keep us doing it as we’ve been doing it.”

“Good Day New York” anchor Rosanna Scotto, co-owner of Fresco by Scotto, had told the New York Post in May she and her sister had spent more than $150,000 to put up their outdoor dining. “It isn’t just made of wood, but also of metal and concrete. It has heaters and fans and flowers.”

Donohue’s Steakhouse owner Maureen Donohue-Peters had detailed 35% of her revenue was coming in through their outdoor dining structure. “If I were to lose that and not be able to get it back inside the restaurant, it would force me to think of other options including closing.”

The restauranteur anticipated others “will not take them down and put them back up.”

Meanwhile, as NYC Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu suggested “these new ‘rules of the road’ will help solidify outdoor dining as a permanent part of our landscape, while banishing many of the negatives,” Florida, where tourism had flourished during and since lockdown measures, continued its investigation after Gov. Ron DeSantis had impaneled a grand jury that specifically looked any “criminal or wrongful activity in Florida relating to the development, promotion and distribution” of the mRNA COVID shots.

Their preliminary report took a sledgehammer to narratives on the efficacy of mask and lockdowns as well while federal agencies refused to cooperate.

Kevin Haggerty

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