City to Expand Open Storefronts Program, Allow Restaurants to Sell Prepackaged Meals

NEW YORK -
Mayor Bill de Blasio at. City Hall. Wednesday, December 23, 2020. (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

New York City will extend the successful “Open Storefronts” program through September 30, 2021.

The program, which allowed businesses to utilize the portion of the sidewalk outside their storefront to display and sell goods, will be expanded to allow eateries to use their sidewalks for takeout orders and selling prepackaged food.

“We want to allow restaurants and other food stores to get out there and make their products available for take out right there on the sidewalk,”  said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who announced the new development at his Tuesday press conference. “We think that [selling outside] is going to help them as they continue to fight to survive in this tough environment….We want to keep helping our local businesses in every way possible, so our Open Storefronts program has been a key new innovation to give people the opportunity to sell their wares out on the street, where a lot of people, of course, feel more comfortable shopping at this moment.”

Businesses are expected to keep at least eight feet worth of sidewalk clear and available for pedestrian traffic, and cannot use space from adjacent storefronts. Staffs are expected to keep all furniture and goods indoors when the stores are closed.

For businesses to utilize the program, an application is available online via the city’s official website.

The city has been allowing restaurants to use portions of the sidewalk and street for outdoor dining, which has allowed restaurants to offer the possibility of sitting for meals as opposed to exclusively relying on takeout.

The success of outdoor dining has prompted dozens of restaurants to invest in outdoor heaters as the days grow colder.

If three or more businesses and restaurants are on a single block, they can collectively apply for space on their block, and may take over the entire block as a retail and restaurant corridor.

In the case of extreme weather, such a snow storm, outdoor dining and shopping may need to be suspended.

“Open Storefronts has given business owners an easy way to maximize their space and keep customers safe as they shop. And by introducing restaurants into the program, we’re giving local eateries more ways than ever to keep their communities vibrant,” said de Blasio. “We remain committed to giving small businesses more chances to thrive, and we’re excited to give them more opportunities to participate in this program throughout the winter and warmer months.”

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smarcus@hamodia.com