The Future of Outdoor Dining in NYC Is Likely to Please No One

Image: YouTube screen grab

If you were to make a list of the things you hated most about the makeshift kiosks that provided an out for restaurants at the height of the COVID shutdown, you’d probably find them all in the solution reached at this month’s public meetings. That solution (quote — unquote) is the Permanent Open Restaurants Program.

A handy brochure from the city explains:

The Permanent Open Restaurants Program will provide restaurants the option of offering outdoor dining on the sidewalk and/or the roadway immediately in front of a restaurant. It will build on the successes and the lessons learned during the emergency Open Restaurants program. The permanent program, which will be run by the Department of Transportation, will balance the needs of everyone using our streets and sidewalks.

Someone in the city government clearly has a sense of humor.

The brochure even comes with helpful illustrations.

If this reminds you of the “How Many Things Can You Find Wrong in this Picture?” puzzles you may have solved as a child, that is because it is one. Notice that the “roadway café” in this illustration usurps perfectly good parking spaces or compromises a lane of traffic. At the same time it fails to alleviate the sidewalk bottleneck involving pedestrians, restaurant employees, and diners vying for walking room. In addition, notice the potentially deadly scenario it affords if the sanitation truck turning right at the corner takes the turn too sharply. Finally, the increased noise, trash, and rodents that many New Yorkers complained about throughout the pandemic remain as big headaches as ever.