The city this week has taken down two dozen sidewalk and curbside dining sheds that no longer are in use — for dining, anyway — as the restaurants that built them have closed.
Following a recent spate of new reports about how many of the structures have abetted rats and vermin, crime and quality of life issues, Mayor Adams was in Manhattan Thursday morning to announce the formation of a multiagency task force to identify and remove the structures.
“This week, this task force is taking down 25 abandoned sheds,” Adams said, according to a transcript. “That’s sheds where the operating restaurant that originally put up the shed is no longer there. The operators should have taken it down themselves, but they didn’t, so now we are.”
Adams remains an unabashed fan of the city’s outdoor dining program, which was instituted during the pandemic to help restaurants survive.
He and Meera Joshi, deputy mayor for operations, said the new effort will keep outdoor dining thriving.
“On a daily basis, the Open Restaurant Program allows 10,000 restaurants across the city to provide safe and additional eating spaces and provides work for tens of thousands of New Yorkers,” Joshi said. “It’s proof that we, as a city, work every day to thrive and strive under the continued storm cloud of Covid. That means we can’t let a few bad apples in the Open Restaurant Program ruin it for all. And today we want to ensure that they don’t.”
Agencies involved include but are not limited to the Department of Transportation, the NYPD, Department of Sanitation and Parks and Recreation.
“Open seating that all New Yorkers could be proud of is what we are moving towards,” Adams said. “We’re developing carefully and a very thought out process to make sure we have guidelines that will take consideration like design, pest control, and public health into account.
Joshi said members of the public who feel the see a structure that qualifies as an “egregious violation” can call 311, text, email, or call the appropriate agencies.
“The dismantling of this abandoned shed is not a dismantling of what we believe is a successful program,” Adams said prior to taking a sledge hammer on one in Manhattan. “We are strongly in support of the outdoor dining program. We want to be clear. The visualization of taking down this shed is not removing the program. It is a symbol that we must get it right.
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, welcomed the move in an email.
“It’s great news that Mayor Adams announced the City will remove abandoned outdoor dining structures that shuttered during the pandemic and will focus on revitalizing or removing dilapidated ones as we transition out of the temporary emergency program that saved countless small businesses and jobs,” Rigie said. “We look forward to working with the City to develop a permanent outdoor dining system that will be beautiful and sustainable for the future.”