Pryor Cashman Partner Richard Frazer, co-chair of the Restaurant, Food + Beverage Group, spoke with Law360 about the post-pandemic future of outdoor dining in New York City and the legal basis for granting licenses to restaurants that want to continue serving customers outside.

In "NYC Restaurants Eye Long Wait For Law On Outdoor Dining," Rich discusses the pandemic-era Open Restaurants initiative that allowed outdoor dining and the legal framework restaurant owners may be facing in the near future:

Lawyers say New York City hasn't yet charged restaurants any fees to participate in the emergency Open Restaurants initiative launched in June 2020, but that free ride will come to an end when the city finally amends its current sidewalk café licensing provisions to establish an outdoor dining program that allows for permanent roadway dining.

Richard Frazer, co-chair of Pryor Cashman LLP's restaurant, food and beverage group, said he represents restaurateurs who "desperately" want a law to be passed to make outdoor dining permanent because sidewalk and roadway spaces have been good for business.

"The Open Restaurants initiative was a temporary rescue lifeline, and it was intended to be temporary," Frazer said. "It accomplished its goal and rescued restaurants throughout the city."

Historically, he said, the Department of Consumer Affairs issued permits for sidewalk cafes in some parts of the city. But pre-pandemic, New York had only 1,400 licensed sidewalk cafes, and now there are 13,000 facilities located on roadways as well as on sidewalks, according to Frazer.

"Depending where you're located, you could double your business without paying a fee during the pandemic," he said.

The article also notes that Rich "doesn't expect fees to be prohibitive, noting that sidewalk cafes in pre-pandemic times cost $2,500 and weren't a big revenue raiser for the city."

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