Seen & Heard: Neighbors Oppose White Street’s Sidewalk Seating

••• The Community Board 1 agendas for September include the liquor-license application for White Street restaurant’s sidewalk café. I wasn’t sure whether the tables would be on White (CB1 has almost never allowed café seating on side streets, although recently CB1 determined it didn’t really have the authority to stop it) or W. Broadway (where the tables would have to be at the bottom of all those stairs). A reader sends word that the discussion will now be about both whether the seating should exist (something the Department of Consumer Affairs oversees) and whether alcohol can be served there (the purview of the State Liquor Authority, which is generally willing to listen to CB1). And it could get ugly: “I have a list of about 50 people who are writing letters objecting to the establishment,” says the reader, because of the possibility of tables on a side street being disruptive.

••• Nish Nush is opening a second location—at 41 John, in FiDi—that’s double the size of the one at Church and Reade. It’ll probably open next month.

••• Le District sent out an update email that described how—somewhat inevitably?—the market part is now selling American merchandise, too such as Babeth’s Feast frozen food and Sir Kensington condiments.

••• Nick says something is happening at the former Albella restaurant space at Reade and Elk. I’ll try to swing by soon.

••• Have you ever noticed that this lamppost on Jay is in a weird spot?

Jay St lamppost



  1. I do not see how a sidewalk cafe even on White Street would comply with the Dept of Consumer Affairs requirement to leave 8 feet of sidewalk clear to the curb.

    8-foot clear path – All sidewalk cafés must maintain a minimum clear path of eight (8) feet between the outer limit of the café and any object near the curb, including the curbstone. Traffic signs, parking meters, and trees with grating flush to grade will not be considered an obstruction to the 8-foot clear path
    requirement. Sidewalk cafés must maintain a nine (9) foot clear path to an intersection, with no exceptions.

    Larger clear path – When a sidewalk is wider than 16 feet, the amount of clear path must be 50% of the distance from the building to the curb line.

    Obstructions – These are fixtures and sidewalk “furniture”—fire hydrants, bicycle racks, traffic lights, mailboxes, benches, planters, and so on—that cannot interfere with clear path. These include fixtures installed by the City, federal government, private business, and civic groups with City approval.

    Service aisle – A minimum 3-foot wait service aisle is required in all cafés (enclosed, unenclosed, and small unenclosed). The aisle is necessary to ensure that no public space is used by the café to service its clientele. It also makes sure that the café is disabled-accessible, as required by the Americans with
    Disabilities Act.

    Everyone and everything used in the operation of the sidewalk café must be contained within the approved café space. Waiters cannot serve diners from the public sidewalk, only from the designated wait service aisle.”

    • I think they could do one row of tables along the building. Remember, one large benefit of sidewalk seating is often just to remind people walking by that there’s a restaurant there

      • That is true. They could probably get 2 or 3 narrow 2-tops legally at most.

        The sidewalk is 13 feet wide. Subtracting 8 feet for a clear path and 3 feet for a service aisle leaves only 2 feet width.

        They probably cannot put tables along the entire (non-doorway) front of the restaurant. The challenge there is the obstructions, i.e., the lamppost at the east end of the frontage and the bicycle rack perpendicular to the property line (and the fire escape drop ladder) at the west end of the frontage. Maintaining 8 feet clear past these obstructions will narrow the frontage available for the sidewalk cafe. (Proposing to remove the bicycle rack for the good of the sidewalk cafe won’t win them any friends.)

        • The tables don’t have to be eight feet from the obstructions (lamp post, bike rack). The obstruction just can’t be in the way.

          • You may be right, but the DCA inspection checklist disagrees. It does not seem to exempt “small unenclosed cafes”–the type with one line of tables up against the building–from the obstruction rules, only from the barrier requirement .

            (The green “Siamese connection” projecting from the west end of the White Street facade must also have 3 feet clearance to the cafe, per below.)


            The sidewalk café must be certain distances from other objects that are not “large objects.”
            See list below:
            • 10 feet from fire hydrants
            • 9 feet from traffic lights
            • 8 feet from telephone booths/kiosks, mailboxes, lampposts, street trees (with fencing and guards), bicycle racks (including all bicycles)
            • 5 feet from benches (only for enclosed cafés), subway entrance or bus stop (at closed end), all other street furniture (15 square feet or less)
            • 3 feet from a cellar door (unless closed, locked, and reinforced), transformer vaults, subway grates, Siamese connections
            • 9 feet from the corner if the sidewalk café is located on the corner

            Tip: Measure from the outer edge of the sidewalk café to either the curb line or the nearest obstruction.

            6 RCNY §2-52(d), §2-46(c)

  2. Most of the restaurants that I can think of don’t have anywhere near an 8 ft clearance between the tables and the edge of the sidewalk.

  3. I oppose the increase in homeless and crazies walking the streets of Tribeca. Not because it’s Tribeca, I’d complain if I lived in the worst place in America. Does Precinct 1 even patrol this neighborhood? Throw the switch on the bat signal for Ray Kelly!! Irish NEED apply!!! NOW!