Once hampered by noise complaints and numerous tickets, Manducatis Rustica owner Gianna Cerbone-Teoli is looking forward to resurrecting her Vernon Boulevard establishment’s sidewalk café.
“I’m ecstatic about it,” said Cerbone-Teoli. “It’s really nice to see people sitting outside on the street and it brings more people to the area.”
Presented at a community meeting by a representative from the Department of City Planning (DCP), restrictions preventing sidewalk cafes in Long Island City and Sunnyside Gardens will be lifted, pending approval from both the local Community Board and City Council.
Main and upcoming retail zones, including Vernon Boulevard, Borden Avenue, Jackson Avenue, 21st Street, Crescent Street, 44th Drive, Court Square and 43rd Avenue, will receive permission to add unenclosed sidewalk cafes to their storefronts if the amendment passes. According to the representative, longstanding LIC restaurant Waterfront Crab House was “grandfathered” under the arrangement. Riverview restaurant, already equipped with a sidewalk café, is not included in the plan because of its location on Center Boulevard, outside the designated zone.
Community Board 1 voted to approve the motion as long as the amendment allowed enclosed sidewalk cafes for those with appropriate clearance in front of their business. Enclosed sidewalk cafes are currently not included under the revision.
According to the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), the fee for an unenclosed two-year sidewalk café license is $510 in addition to a consent fee to use the public sidewalk and a security deposit. Businesses hoping to institute an enclosed café must also pay a city planning fee, varying depending on size, zone and the type of café.
Alcohol may be served in sidewalk cafes if the restaurant has obtained a license from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) and beverages are distributed only by a server.
According to Arthur Rosenfield, president of the Long Island City/Astoria Chamber of Commerce, nearby commercial strips in Astoria, such as Broadway, 30th Avenue and Ditmars Boulevard, have seen a boom in business since the installation of outdoor dining spaces.
“People like [sidewalk cafes] and the business and restaurants need to have that kind of additional presence for economic reasons,” said Rosenfield. “They need it for revenue and to be attractive – the European-style cafés are very attractive to people and they’re bringing people to the neighborhood. It’s very positive for the community.”