As New York City heads into an uncertain winter the success or failure of outdoor dining will determine the future of the restaurant and bar industry in the city. To that end, it stands to reason that many will take advantage of year rounds of outdoor dining. The New York City Department of Buildings released additional guidance regarding the use of heating elements to winterize outdoor dining setups.
There are three heating options participants in the Open Restaurants program may choose from:
- Electric radiant heaters will be allowed in sidewalk and roadway seating setups. For full guidance from the Department of Buildings, click here
- Natural gas radiant heaters will be allowed on the sidewalk only. For full guidance from the Department of Buildings, click here
- Natural gas radiant heaters must also comply with the Fire Code.
- Portable heaters fueled by propane will be allowed on the sidewalk only. Propane heating will be regulated by the Fire Department, with requirements for safe handling, use and storage. For full guidance from the Fire Department, click here
Food service establishments with private outdoor dining spaces may use heating devices subject to the applicable guidance from the Fire Department and/or the Department of Buildings.
Since the rules and regulations are changing seemingly by the day (and were always complicated to begin with), The New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) offers one-on-one free virtual compliance consultations to help establishments understand how to comply with key City rules. The virtual consultations will help establishments understand the new rules and common compliance challenges related to the Open Restaurants Program. These consultants are for educational purposes only, not for enforcement. SBS will not be issuing fines or violations (we understand the trepidation on the part of some business owners but SBS can be taken at their word). To schedule a consultation, click here.
The last thing that the city still needs to figure out of course is the delivery space needed for trucks to service both the bars and restaurants, but the neighboring establishments as well. Until that is settled, ticketing of trucks trying to keep the city afloat in open streets/open restaurant zones must end!