Brooklyn restaurants call on DOT to make changes to outdoor dining rules

A group of restaurant owners in Brooklyn is calling on the Department of Transportation to change the rules for the city’s outdoor dining program, saying the current rules add an unnecessary burden on the owners. 
Outdoor dining has been a saving grace throughout the pandemic for Chez Oskar owner Charlotta Janssen. However, she says the way the outdoor dining program is regulated by the city is causing a burden on her and about 30 other restaurant owners who say the rules are too restrictive. 
"You cannot drill or bolt to the floor, you cannot drill or bolt to a building. Some restaurants have a fire hydrant or a bus stop out in front. It's not their fault, they didn't ask for that and they have no control of it, but now they cannot participate in outdoor dining because DOT says you can't use adjacent space,” said Janssen. 
The owners have now launched a petition to push for the city to establish what they’re calling fair guidelines on rules surrounding outdoor dining and the way they are enforced. 
Janssen says when DOT issues a violation about the dining structures, the owners are only given 24 hours to make a fix. 
"You're mid-shift, you're serving people. It's impossible to cure something within 24 hours sometimes when it's an issue where you have to get a builder to come in and fix that,” said Janssen. 
Outdoor dining has been in place since mid-2020 and DOT is currently working to make changes within the program so that it can be permanent by 2023. 
As they make those changes, Janssen and others say they are hoping to work with DOT to come up with more feasible solutions. 
News 12 reached out to DOT for comment regarding the restaurant owners’ concerns and hasn’t heard back yet.