With the end of the covid-19 pandemic, many of the once-ubiquitous items of the past three years, like masks and vaccine cards, are disappearing. Will New York City’s outdoor dining sheds be disappearing, too? Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, appeared on 710 WOR’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning program to discuss the sheds’ future.
“Outdoor dining is here to stay in some capacity,” Rigie told Berman and Riedel, “but… everyone, really, is waiting for the city to finalize the guidelines for affirmative programs so they know what they can do, what they can’t do, and how to do it.”
Many restaurants have shed upgrade or demolition plans in limbo as they wait for city agencies to decide what will happen next. “We need standards, you know. Sidewalk cafes will look like sidewalk cafes did pre-pandemic, that we used to see, but hopefully the red tape and bureaucracy will be cut for small business owners to participate in the program, the costs will be kept down, and then the roadway dining will be more of outdoor dining streeteries versus what I call ‘indoor dining outdoors’.”
Rigie also reminded listeners that the restaurant industry still hasn’t fully recovered, and inflation isn’t helping the problem. “People are out, for the most part. They’re eating, they’re drinking, they’re spending money, but certainly there’s still a road to go for recovery for a lot of these places. A busy restaurant doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is all fine and back to normal.”
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