The new rules for curbside and sidewalk dining

(Credit: New York City Department of Transportation)

The mayor announced the rules for curbside dining last month — now officially called Roadway Cafes — and I’ve been slow to get this out — the public comment period ends today if you want to sneak in. It’s an easy form to fill out here, on the Department of Transportation website.

The program is now called “Dining Out NYC,” and it is meant to deliver “safe, clean, rat-free” outdoor dining with clear guidance for restaurant owners. The new rules will be in place by spring 2024.nThe City Council voted this past spring to make the program permanent; these are the changes the city developed in response to quality-of-life complaints since covid.

Before the pandemic, outdoor dining was permitted exclusively on the sidewalk, and almost only within Manhattan. Under Dining Out NYC, outdoor dining will be permitted year-round on the sidewalk and from April to November in the roadway.

(Credit: New York City Department of Transportation)

The setups must follow clear design requirements, and will no longer look like fully enclosed sheds with roofs, and the new siting requirements will push them away from corners:

  • there must be a minimum of 20 feet from the perimeter of a roadway cafe and the curb line of a street intersecting with the street on which the roadway cafe is located
  • minimum of 8 feet of sidewalk (wider on bigger roads)
  • 15 feet from a subway stair
  • 8 feet from a street tree bed
  • 5 feet from a curb cut
  • 5 feet from primary building entrances
  • roadway barriers must be rat-resistant and filled with water
  • furniture and coverings must be lightweight and movable
  • areas cannot be enclosed
  • deck must be flush with sidewalk (or there has to be a ramp for ADA requirements)
  • sidewalk cafes cannot be enclosed
  • there can be no platform built on the sidewalk
  • No advertising sign, picture, flag, banner, side curtain or other device, including an illuminated or non-illuminated sign
  • Names and logos shall be limited to ten (10) percent of the surface area of the surface on which they are displayed.
  • No musical instruments or sound reproduction or amplification devices shall be operated or used within a sidewalk cafe or roadway cafe
  • No roadside cafes can be on the far side of a bike lane, since the State Liquor Authority will not allow alcohol to be carried there

(Credit: New York City Department of Transportation)

Some interesting additions:

  • If a dining shed is not used for 30 consecutive days it must be removed
  • LPC will review these in historic districts, which is much of Tribeca

You can review these rules yourself by clicking on “new proposed rules” here.

And as requested, one of the solutions spotted in Canada. The bricked part was added to the edge of the sidewalk.



  1. Can’t wait for these things to come down! When is city going to review the mess that is in front of Yevs every day…really difficult to walk around all those tables they set up.

    Some of these places have really benefited from the free real-estate. Maybe these places having less capacity will allow some of the closed places to re-open.

  2. I still vote for a different implementation, but I guess it’s too late:
    – widen sidewalks
    – allow removable café-style seating directly adjacent to the restaurant (with or without removable canopy covering).
    – this means service does not have to cross the pedestrian path
    – this also reduces risk of cars driving into the diners

  3. Fascinating how people complain about small business getting “free real estate” (its not free) when private vehicles take up 50% of the street and benefit only the few rich people driving them.

  4. I would like to see double decker Roadway Cafe’s.