New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday that the demolition of 20 abandoned outdoor dining establishments at the center of a long-standing debate over the program’s survival is underway.

Standing in front of a deserted cabin in Manhattan, Adams emphasized his support for making al fresco dining a permanent part of city dining. But that longevity must be protected in a way that is “safe, clean and respectful of neighbors and community members,” he said.

In addition to removing structures belonging to closed restaurants, Adams has promised to crack down on repeat violators of the city’s outdoor eating and drinking regulations. being investigated.

“What I want to say as clearly as I can is that al fresco dining is here to stay, and while it’s here, we want to make sure it’s right,” Adams said at a press conference Thursday. That’s what I mean,” he said.

In June 2020, al fresco dining entered the city’s restaurant scene as a highly anticipated means of supporting a once-thriving industry hit hard by lockdowns early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Did. About 13,000 restaurants participate in the city’s outdoor dining program.

While the program remains popular with many diners, some residents blame the unsanitary conditions caused by certain outdoor structures. Some criticize the appearance of the hut, while others point to concerns about safety and vermin.

Adams said people who are critical of outdoor dining are still in the minority. A lawsuit calling for a ban on outdoor dining across the five districts is seen as executive overreach by the mayor, he added, stalling long-term efforts to keep it going.

“Unfortunately, there is a minority who don’t like outdoor dining at all, and their lawsuit against the city is actually slowing the process of making the program permanent,” Adams said.

Rats sightings have increased since last year, partly due to the ubiquity of food waste resulting from outdoor dining, the city’s health department told Gothamist this spring. has been critical of the city’s rat problem since his pre-pandemic days as Brooklyn mayor, but recent developments have led to accusations that his administration has not done enough to address the problem.

Still, al fresco dining is thought to be saving jobs and contributing to an important aspect of city life, restaurant dining, even amid the ongoing public health crisis. , repeatedly says the program saved 100,000 jobs.

Andrew Lizzie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, praised the city for demolishing the storeroom and urged city leaders to create a fair and permanent outdoor dining program.

“We look forward to working with the city to develop a beautiful, sustainable and permanent outdoor dining system,” he said in a statement.

The city’s transportation and health departments are leading the enforcement efforts, with recent support from the parks department and the police.

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