What Does the Future Hold for New York’s Outdoor Dining?

It was an unusually tumultuous occasion. In the summer, roughly 100 people crowded a hearing in Manhattan’s West Village, anxious to air their grievances about a problem that was splitting communities across the city.

The topic at hand is eating al fresco.

Residents carried identical placards with phrases like “Outdoor Dining Is Home Invasion” as municipal officials announced a plan to make it permanent. They booed an official who said that alfresco eating had been a big success. The audience roared, “Rats!” when another official declared that New York’s sidewalks have become some of the greatest eating alternatives in the world.

“We’re simply going insane with the emotional agony of every sort of quality-of-life issue you can imagine,” one resident added, to a wild ovation.

The dispute in the West Village foreshadows the difficulties that city authorities will face as they attempt to formalise one of the most significant changes to the urban cityscape in recent decades. Residents will be able to voice their opinions on what outdoor eating should look like in a post-pandemic future during citywide hearings beginning later this month.