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NYC’s outdoor dining scene is out of control — and only one group can fix it

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The Open Restaurants program launched in spring 2020, which permitted restaurants to serve customers on sidewalks and in the street without having to pay rent or fees, indisputably saved the industry from collapse when indoor service was prohibited. It was a rare de Blasio gift to New Yorkers, who emerged from apartments where they were held up for months to safely eat, drink and socialize outdoors.

In the Wild West atmosphere, restaurateurs threw up improvised sheds of cheap plywood and planters, finessed chronic rule changes, and made deals with next-door landlords to colonize more sidewalk space.

It was the Big Apple at its spontaneous, can-do best. Over time, some places spent up to $100,000 to install more charming alfresco setups like Restaurant Daniel’s row of “Riviera cabanas,” or Fresco by Scotto’s “lemon grove” that looks like it should be crawling with live monkeys and parrots.

But it also spawned a monster whose contours are just now coming into focus. Most alfresco setups are hideously ugly. They screw up traffic. They force employees to freeze in winter, swelter in summer, and navigate dangerous bike lanes year-round. Most of the proliferating,........

© New York Post

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