NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Curbside dining could soon become a permanent fixture on New York City streets.
The City Council heard several bills Wednesday that would help struggling restaurants survive through the fall.
As CBS2’s Christina Fan reports, two of the major proposals would allow for outdoor dining to continue indefinitely. The other would allow restaurants to put in street heaters.
At Kobrick Coffee Company in the Meatpacking District, general manager Mary Colgan isn’t looking forward to the changing of the season. The outdoor dining program she’s relied so heavily on is set to end October 31st.
“It’s boggling everybody. You’re trying to find other options, but when you look there are no other options. If they close this,” Colgan said.
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The collective outcry from restaurants and bars across the city is prompting the City Council to consider a permanent extension of outdoor dining in New York City.
Customers still leery of eating indoors are already embracing the idea.
“We are all loving the outdoor dining. It feels like New York City is a European city now,” said West Village resident Bill Roegge.
But allowing dining outdoors through the fall and winter leads to another problem: How to keep people warm?
The city currently only allows for natural gas or electric heaters, which can run into the thousands to buy and install. Councilmembers are debating whether to legalize propane heaters – a cheaper option.
“We got prepared with the propane tanks, and we’re hoping that the City Council or anybody would help pass a law that would make them temporarily legal,” said Nick Granato, at Serafina.
“I’d be a lot more likely to come out if I knew there were heaters. Because think about the fact that yesterday was summer. Today is the first day of fall and I’m already wearing a hat and gloves and scarf,” said Brooklyn resident Julia Glazer.
Restaurants say they are desperate for both bills to pass.
A recent New York City Hospitality Alliance survey found that already in August, nearly nine out of every 10 restaurants in the city could not pay full rent and 34% couldn’t pay at all.
“No way we could just survive off of indoor dining. For us that means 12-5 seats,” Colgan said.
Several others bills were introduced Wednesday, including streamlining the process for restaurants to obtain a sidewalk-café license.
The City Council is expected to hold a hearing on the bill to extend outdoor dining on Sept. 30.
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