NYC has given up 8,550 parking spaces for outdoor dining amid COVID

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They have an appetite for obstruction!

According to city data, restaurants have swallowed up about 8,550 public curbside parking spaces for their outdoor seating since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since last June, the mayor and the Department of Transportation have let restaurants build dining rooms in now-old places outside of their storefronts as indoor dining was restricted amid the pandemic.

Approximately 11,500 restaurants have joined the program, of which approximately 5,700 have chosen to locate along the sidewalk. This represents “approximately” 8,550 converted spaces – out of approximately 3 million parking spaces in total in the five boroughs, said city hall spokesman Mitch Schwartz.

For the operators of the TRU Astoria café on Ditmars Boulevard, the extra space was well worth the trade-off – as business has “more than doubled” since the installation of sidewalk and sidewalk dining tables.

“Thank goodness we adjusted. The extended patio. The outdoor lounge. Being able to use the street. It has strengthened our brand, ”said Yanni Stathakis, 48, COO of Astoria Hospitality Group, owner of the restaurant.

The outdoor dining area for Tru Astoria in Astoria, Queens.
The outdoor dining area for Tru Astoria’s restaurant in Astoria, Queens.
BRIGITTE STELZER

“People from the five districts now come to Astoria to eat here in Ditmars. It was good that the city did that.

But just across the road, Sal Barretta from Alba’s Pizza said the program had taken a bite out of his business.

“My clients tell me they don’t come here because they can’t find parking,” said Barretta, who chose not to set up dining tables on the platform because he believed that there was a lot of space inside.

“The hangars, I didn’t. Maybe I should have, ”said Baretta. “But we don’t need to be on the streets. We have 101 seats inside. These hangars, really dangerous. It is a huge handicap. It’s dirty. It’s dangerous. You breathe in all the car exhaust fumes.

Baretta said the restaurant next door was closed months ago – but its outdoor dining setup continues to block potential parking spots.

“The neighboring place, six months without business. Yet these three parking spaces are closed because he left them on the street, ”Baretta said. “It doesn’t make sense, but with this mayor – there’s no enforcement, no oversight. I don’t know what he’s doing.

A car parked next to an outdoor dining area.
A car parked next to an outdoor dining area.
Christopher Sadowski

Stathakis said Astoria Hospitality Group spent tens of thousands of dollars on outdoor dining at its various restaurants – and those who didn’t make the investment lost.

“They didn’t adapt. They didn’t add delivery and they didn’t add alfresco dining, ”he said. “They are sitting ducks. They don’t know what to do. It is regrettable. “

Some residents support the compromise.

“Restaurants must survive! I think it was the best solution, ”said Steve P., 52, a permanent resident of Astoria who works for the city.

“We all have to make compromises. We have the best metro system. We should use it! It is cheaper than gasoline or the ticket. “

And one resident said the lack of parking was already a problem before makeshift patios arrived anyway.

“Parking here has always been a clusterf – k!” said Joey Izzo, 34, resident and bartender of Astoria. A few lost places to eat in the open air “haven’t changed anything,” he added.

People eating outside in Manhattan's East Village on May 1, 2021.
People eating outside in Manhattan’s East Village on May 1, 2021.
James keivom

But others say it only made a serious problem worse.

“Without the sheds it was already difficult to park, but now? Friday? Forget it! ”Software engineer Ricardo Lourenco, 42, spoke about the situation on the famous Broadway tape of Astoria.

“I don’t even drive there anymore,” Lourenco said. “It’s a nightmare!”

City Hall argued that the program has allowed countless restaurants to remain open despite New Yorkers’ aversion to indoor spaces amid COVID-19.

“In the most difficult year for small businesses in recent memory, the Open Restaurants program saved approximately 100,000 jobs,” Schwartz said in a statement.

“He claimed less than half of one percent of the city’s parking spaces. Bargains like this are hard to find in this city.

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