A new ruling from the state Supreme Court gives way to the city’s Open Restaurants program going forward, allowing its outdoor restaurants to remain after the program ends.
The program has existed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 as an attempt for restaurants to survive.
“If we couldn’t eat outside, we’d go out of business,” said Charlotta Janssen, owner of Che Oskar in Bedford-Stuyvesant. “It’s been our survival… it’s all that has helped us, and we were able to get our employees back.”
In a two-page decision, a judge ruled that the plaintiffs, a group of New Yorkers from across the city, filed the lawsuit prematurely, as the city has not yet made the program permanent.
“Noise, pedestrian access, the commercial landscape of the streets… There’s a list of all these things that the law requires them to look at, and they haven’t looked at those things,” says Leslie Clark of Cue Up-NYC, a coalition that opposes the Open Restaurants program.
There is currently a bill in the city council that could make the program permanent.