White Plains Council Expands Outdoor Dining Options

The White Plains Common Council voted to authorize street cafes, or “streeteries,” at an August 6 special meeting.

This latest action is part of the city’s ongoing efforts to assist local businesses which have experienced hardships as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The ordinance allows food establishments to use a portion of the right-of-way to provide additional outdoor seating until November 1.

A street café is an outdoor dining area located within up to three contiguous street parking spaces and intended to provide expanded outdoor seating for wait service by an adjacent food establishment.

Any food establishment wishing to set up a street café must submit a proposal to the Department of Public Works for review and approval. The proposal will be reviewed by the city to ensure that the proposed streetery provides suitable protection from traffic for patrons, that it will not have a detrimental impact on traffic movement and safety, and that sufficient parking remains available to serve the surrounding businesses.

In June, the Council acted to temporarily amend the city’s sidewalk café ordinance in order to facilitate additional and expanded sidewalk dining and to significantly lower permit fees. More than double the usual number of restaurants have taken advantage of this permit.

In July, the Council authorized sidewalk sales every Wednesday through Saturday through October 9 from 10 a.m. to sunset. The city waived permit fees for businesses that wished to participate.

“As we continue to adapt to the presence of the coronavirus, the demand for outdoor dining has naturally increased,” said White Plains Mayor Tom Roach. “Food establishments are an important and valued amenity to our residents and the city. This action will allow for the further expansion of outdoor dining options where safe and feasible.”

The city plans to re-evaluate the streetery program after this season to determine whether and in what form it should continue next year.

City officials and the Business Improvement District (WP BID) partnered on a “Dine and Drive-In” movie series in June/July in the Waller-Maple parking lot and at White Plains High School. A number of restaurants joined in to offer easy pick-up food specials on movie nights, and for the movies offered in the Waller-Maple lot certain restaurants also offered delivery directly to cars during the screening.

Ticket proceeds were donated to the White Plains BID/Caring for COVID partnership, an effort to support local White Plains restaurants while simultaneously helping feed front line workers. The White Plains BID is matching every dollar donated to boost local businesses in the downtown district even further.

During the shutdown of businesses this spring due to COVID-19, the city also worked with the BID to support restaurants providing take-out and delivery service by bagging parking meters in front of restaurants and allowing restaurants to put out sandwich boards and other signage promoting their take-out/delivery services.

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