There’s no doubt that the most positive development in the city’s nascent restaurant scene over the summer has been outdoor dining. Restaurants big and small, at first on the sly, but later with the consent of the city government, established outdoor cafes in the absence of indoor dining as New York-area cases of COVID-19 dwindled. Some places threw a rickety table or two out on the sidewalk to supplement their carryout and delivery business, while others conceived and executed massive curbside emplacements with plexiglass partitions, gaily painted walls, and potted ferns and flowers.
By the mayor’s decree, outdoor dining began June 22. Then the rains came. At around 7 p.m. on the following Sunday, the skies opened up and thousands of diners across the city were soaked to the bone at largely unprotected tables. Almost overnight, nearly every outdoor cafe installed umbrellas and tented pavilions, further enhancing their appearance on thronged streets like St. Marks Place in the East Village and Arthur Avenue in Belmont.
The city has permitted indoor dining as of September 30, but with only 25 percent capacity. This means that outdoor dining will continue to be an important part of the profitability of restaurants, even though it only goes part of the way toward covering the expense of running a business. But outdoor dining officially ends on October 31, unless the deadline is extended; enjoy our alfresco city while you can. Here is Eater’s guide to outdoor dining in New York City.