Mayor Walsh Clears Path for More Winter Outdoor Dining

City of Syracuse issues new guidelines to make it easier for establishments to continue serving customers outdoors during COVID-19 pandemic

Syracuse, N.Y. – Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced new guidelines to make it easier for restaurants and bars in the City of Syracuse to safely and comfortably serve customers outdoors during winter months. The City is extending the season for outdoor café seating; is allowing “parklets” to stay in place until the first major snow event; and is allowing the placement of outdoor vestibules and enclosures through the winter.

“Syracuse is a winter city. When business and government work together, we can make it possible for people to enjoy outdoor dining all year long,” said Mayor Walsh. “Our new guidelines allow restaurants and bars citywide to use the public right-of-way creatively to serve more customers. These changes will help businesses get through the challenges of the pandemic and, hopefully, be one of those permanent positives that come out of this experience.”

The City released an updated Winter Dining Guidelines and Updates handbook for business owners. It was developed in a partnership between the City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development (NBD) in consultation with local businesses. The guidelines include portable outdoor gas-fired heating appliances (“patio heaters”) requirements issued by the Syracuse Fire Department. All cafe seating, parklets, or enclosure items require permits and proper documentation on file with DPW and the Central Permit Office.

Syracuse Winter Dining Guidelines

According to the new guidelines, restaurants and bars can continue to offer outdoor café seating on sidewalks and the public right-of-way until further notice. Businesses are responsible for clearing all snow from their sidewalks around café seating and ensuring that pedestrians have a minimum 6’ (six feet) path clear of snow and ice at all times that café seating materials are set on the sidewalk.

The guidelines also allow businesses to continue the use of parklets, the outdoor seating areas in parking spaces outside establishments. DPW will request businesses remove and store the parklets for the season prior to the first major snow event.

To enable more outdoor seating, the guidelines allow the placement of temporary outdoor vestibules, membrane structures (domes, or other), and awnings installed no earlier than Oct. 15 and removed by Mar. 31 the following spring. Proper sidewalk space is required around the enclosures and snow clearance must be completed at all times.  DPW must review all plans and drawings.

Businesses are required to have proper approvals from the City and must contact the Central Permit Office at (315) 448-8600 to continue the use of café seating and parklets and to add outdoor enclosures in the right-of-way. Complete guidelines are available online at: http://www.syrgov.net/pdfs/nbd/WinterDiningGuidance111020.pdf.

Earlier this week, Mayor Walsh announced the opening of a winter round of grant funding through the Syracuse Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO) to help small businesses make investments as the pandemic and winter cold weather converge. Small businesses in the City of Syracuse with 50 or fewer employees are eligible for grants between $2,500 and $10,000. Grant recipients can use the funds to purchase outdoor equipment such as tents, awnings, enclosures or heaters, as well as other ways to adapt the COVID-19 business challenges. Details on the program and applications can be found online at www.syrgov.net/SEDCO_Home.aspx.