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City Officials Attempt to Wrangle a Permanent Outdoor Dining Program for NYC

Plus, Brooklyn’s first esports venue opens with lots of food — and more intel

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Re-opening Continues Across Densely Populated New York And New Jersey Areas Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

City officials continue to negotiate a permanent plan for outdoor dining

The Open Restaurants program has served as a lifeline for more than 11,000 restaurants and bars over the last year, who extended their seating into sidewalks and parking spaces with elaborate and makeshift outdoor setups. Now city officials are negotiating a permanent plan for the program’s future, according to Crain’s New York.

To make outdoor dining permanent, the Department of Transportation must first figure out an overhaul of zoning and permitting regulations across the city, no easy feat for a city of 8.6 million people and just as many opinions. The DOT has signaled its support for permanently ending several of the zoning rules that prohibited outdoor dining in the past, according to Crain’s. New zoning regulations are now being weighed by the city’s community boards over the next three months. The department is also considering reinstating fees for restaurant and bar owners who use street and sidewalk space with a focus on “accessibility,” DOT commissioner Henry Gutman tells the New York Times.

When Mayor de Blasio announced the program last June, the city had to suspend roughly 20 zoning rules, Crain’s reports, and replaced the historically expensive, months-long licensing process for outdoor dining with a free, instant online application.

Not everyone is on board with making outdoor dining permanent, however. In recent months, a small but vocal minority of New Yorkers has emerged in opposition to the program, citing complaints that range from safety concerns and noise complaints to pedestrian access and parking. If city officials and community board members can’t negotiate changes to Open Restaurants, the program is set to phase out at the end of 2022.

In other news

BrookLAN, the largest esports venue in the New York City and the first in Brooklyn, is now open at 339 Troutman Street, near Irving Avenue. The 5,000-square-foot space includes a 100-seat theater, more than 40 computers and consoles for rent, and lots of food.

— Old-school dessert destination Serendipity 3 reopens next week with a pastel pink interior and a revamped menu.

— As tourists return to the city, the days of New York belonging to New Yorkers come to an end, the Times reports.

— A love letter to the fried frog legs at Nathan’s Famous.

— Happy Friday: