Taking a stroll through downtown New York City, where I live, these days is like going through the aftermath of a party. Limbing string lights, trash-strewn puddles, and cracked plywood are all relics of the raucous celebration known as al fresco dining.
These wooden ‘streets’ and makeshift tables lining the sidewalks first appeared when restaurants needed to re-seat diners during the height of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. . was novel, creative, spontaneous and fun in a time when there wasn’t much to do. For a while, it looked like outdoor dining could outlive the pandemic. just last October, new york magazine I have written It will remain “probably forever”.
But now someone turned on the lights and turned off the music. Something has changed about outdoor dining nationwide in the last few months. People are losing their desire to eat in the elements due to fears of the novel coronavirus settling down. Many streets are empty this winter, except for those who are willing to brave the cold and fight COVID-19 cautiously.Hannah Cutting Jones, director of food research at the University of Oregon, said that in Eugene, where she lives, outdoor dining is “absolutely not happening” so far. City new york and Philadelphia Began demolishing unused street leashes. The brilliance of the novelty of outdoor dining has faded.what once evoked main street of Paris turned out to be a jerky table next to a parked car. Even the pandemic hasn’t overcome why Americans never liked dining outdoors in the first place.
For a while, the appeal of al fresco dining was clear. COVID safety aside, restaurants continue to struggle, Boosting some low-income communities, and cultivated the joy of living in bleak times.At some point, more than 12,700 New York restaurants Took me to the streets and towns—together with others boston, Los Angeles, Chicagoand Philadelphia— suggested making the dining room permanent. But so far, few cities have actually adopted official rules. It’s unclear at this time if they will. Without official sanctions, pressure from opponents of outdoor dining could mount, leading to the destruction of existing huts.Already people keep tweeting Photo disapproval in hygiene departmentPart of the problem is that as most Americans’ concerns about COVID recede, the potential downside is becoming harder to overlook. gave up voluntarily their hut this winter.
The economics of al fresco dining may no longer make sense for restaurants, either. It was hailed as a boon to struggling restaurants in the midst of the pandemic, but now that indoor dining is back, the practice may not make much sense. They tend to take up the parking spaces they need to attract customers, Cutting-Jones said. “If the conglomerate that owns Longhorn Steakhouse doesn’t want to invest in outdoor dining, it’s not going to be the norm,” Rebecca Spang, a food historian at Indiana University Bloomington, told me. In addition, many restaurants are already understaffed, even without additional seating, she added.
In some ways, al fresco dining was doomed to failure. As anyone who has dined outside during the pandemic has inevitably noticed, it has always run counter to most of the physical makeup of the country. Sometimes the weather is nice, but more often than not. “Who wants to eat on the sidewalks of Phoenix in July?” said Span.
Another is the discomfort of proximity to cars. Restaurants littered the streets like overdrinking patrons. The problem is that US roads were built for cars, not people. That tends not to be the case in places like Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia where outdoor dining is famous, Megan Elias, a historian and director of his program at Boston University’s Gastronomy, told me. At best, this means that American al fresco dining is usually enjoyed on the sidelines of traffic.at worst they dangerous collision.
It was easy to put up with cars and bad weather. Eating indoors seemed like a more serious health hazard than breathing in smoke and shivering in the cold. . It’s a friendship born out of discomfort. I have to admit, there was a time when lounging under a heat lamp with a hot drink was really alluring. But now outdoor dining is back to what it used to be. Most Americans want to avoid anything other than the most ideal conditions. This kind of relapse can lead to fewer opportunities to eat outdoors, even when the weather is nice.
But outdoor dining is also affected by more existential issues that have survived nearly three years of living with COVID. If safety wasn’t an issue, paying big bucks to eat on the street might not seem worth it to most diners. “Either the weather is very beautiful, or the scenery is there, it should make sense to be outdoors,” said Paul Friedman. Outdoor seating may feel too casual for some diners. delmonikossaid Cutting Jones, is a legendary fine dining restaurant that opened in the 1800s.
In contrast, outdoor dining was associated with more casual experiences, such as eating hot dogs at Coney Island. “We have high expectations of what dining out should be like,” she said, noting that American diners are particularly fussy about comfort. Sometimes associations cannot be overridden. “When a restaurant is fancy and charges $200 per person,” Friedman says, most people can’t get away from the feeling that they’ve spent that much money on a “picnic on the street.”
Al fresco dining hasn’t completely disappeared. It’s entirely possible that in the next few years, more Americans will have the opportunity to eat outside during the months with better weather than they did pre-pandemic. Where it continues, it will almost certainly be different. For example, Santa Barbara made its dining room permanent last year, Must be painted in an approved “iron color”” It may also not be very popular among restaurant owners. Hayrettin Günç, architect of the Global Designing Cities Initiative, warns that if outdoor dining regulations are too widespread or too costly, “there will be barriers to business.”
For now, al fresco dining is another COVID-related practice that hasn’t quite stuck, like shaking hands and avoiding universal remote work. there is. It’s certainly easier to do so than to come up with policies to accommodate new habits. For al fresco dining, it’s also the most comfortable. If this continues, outdoor dining in the US could return to its pre-pandemic state. Dine “al fresco” along the lamp-lined terraces of The Venetian Las Vegas and under the lush canopy of his Rainforest café. .