Restaurants in New York City looking to continue outdoor dining into the chillier fall and even winter months got good news as the City Council approved outdoor dining as a permanent fixture in the five boroughs on Thursday.
A day earlier, the city, along with the FDNY, released guidance for businesses to use the devices safely during the months ahead. There are three options for heating outside dining areas, involving three different types of heating: electric, natural gas and propane.
Electric heaters are allowed in sidewalk and roadway seating setups, the city said. Natural gas heaters will be allowed on sidewalks only, and must comply with fire code. Portable heaters that use propane similarly can only be used on sidewalks, and will be regulated by the FDNY with specific requirements for handling, use and storage.
Restaurants with private outdoor dining spaces can use any of the aforementioned heating devices, and are subject to FDNY or Department of buildings guidance.
"The guidelines are designed to keep diners, employees, and pedestrians safe and healthy — and we look forward to giving New Yorkers more chances than ever to enjoy the outdoors year-round," de Blasio said. "Restaurants make New York City the greatest city in the world, and we're proud to support their continued recovery from this crisis."
The city's Open Restaurants program was extended in September to permanently become year-round. The city has said more than 10,000 restaurants since June have participated in the program, which allowed New Yorkers to enjoy meals at some of their favorite spots, while also taking precautions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, the City Council voted to make outdoor dining permanent.
Outdoor heating devices have already been all the rage in Connecticut, with businesses that provide them in high demand. Things like outdoor fire pits to indoor gas stoves with remote controls have been very popular at New Milford's "House of Warmth."
And people are willing to pay up for the hot commodities.
"It's around $5,500-$6,000, and that's buying the inset, that's the installation," said Brian Pieck, who runs the shop with his wife Nyree. The pair said they've been getting calls from across the country — the furthest coming from Texas — from people looking for their products. Brian said that there's such national demand, manufacturers can't keep up.
"The problem is getting raw materials, getting to make the product," he said. The store has plenty of grills, stoves, even ovens — but patio heaters are in very short supply, as restaurants view them as a must now. The Piecks had been getting so many calls for them, they even lent one from their own home to a restaurant in town.
"Business owners in this community help other business owners," Pieck said.