NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As the weather has gotten colder, many New York City restaurant owners have been waiting to learn the guidelines for outdoor dining.

On Sunday night, CBS2’s Cory James found out what they can and cannot do.

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It was cold enough Sunday for Florangel Rodriguez to use a complimentary blanket given to her by Pazza Notte in Midtown, but her big question was, “It’s going to keep getting colder and colder and what are we going to do about it?”

That’s what Roy Ibrahim wanted to know, too. He owns Bistro Les Amis in SoHo and said guidelines about heaters for sidewalk and street dining have not been released.

“I don’t want to go and spend thousands of dollars buying all those heat lamps and find out we cannot use propane or this is not the specification the city would require us to have,” Ibrahim said.


Andrew Rigie with the NYC Hospitality Alliance and City Councilman Justin Brannan told CBS2 they have been calling on City Hall for months to release outdoor heating guidance.

“I feel for these restaurant owners because they are just trying to get by and they want to do the right thing. They want to follow the rules, but in order to follow the rules we need the rules,” Brannan said.

“Our question for the mayor’s office is: when can we get this guidance so that restaurateurs can start planning?” Rigie added.

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CBS2 put in several requests for information. While Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s Office did not respond, the Department of Building did Sunday evening. In an email, a city official said, whether an outdoor dining area is on private or public property, including the street, restaurant owners can use either natural gas or electric heaters. Propane gas is not allowed.

The electrical or gas plumbing work must be done by a licensed professional.

If gas heaters are going to be used, the city said the FDNY has to inspect the work.

And if electrical heaters are used, an electrician must check out the system to make sure it’s safe.

Still, there is some confusion on the part of restaurant owners. It’s also unclear if the city has communicated all this information properly.

We also don’t know whether outdoor street dining will be extended past the current end date of Oct. 31.

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