Mike Berland

Nov 12, 2021

3 min read

Lasting legacy of Covid shacks? Streetscaping.

Pre-pandemic, NYC sidewalks were best known for their trash, smells, cracks, rodents, and crowds.

During quarantine, eating outside became a sanity savior. NYC streets and sidewalks sprouted al fresco dining oases that evoked everything from the Greek Isles to floral fairylands.

As indoor dining moved outdoors, streeteries and streetscaping took over NYC.

Here’s your 101:

WHAT’S UP:

There is momentum for streeteries (outdoor dining) and streetscaping

We felt the first surge in streetscaping the summer of 2020 when restaurants started to reopen via outdoor experiences. A year later, momentum is starting to rise again as cities like NYC decide whether or not to make these “Covid shacks” a permanent fixture.

Hospitality industry leaders like Danny Meyer and city planners are starting to think about outdoor dining through the lens of streetscaping — as they promote the benefits streeteries bring beyond additional seating.

  • Streetscaping creates destinations that get more people outside — beneficial to our physical & mental health
  • It positively impacts urban vitality by increasing a community’s safety, liveliness, and opportunities for social connection

WHAT’S DOWN:

Streets as functional spaces solely for cars to park on and people to walk.

Urban planners are rethinking street design to enable culture & connection to take place.

WHAT’S NEXT:

If the NYC Open Restaurant Text Amendment passes & outdoor dining is here to stay (at least in NYC) — restaurants, hospitality and retailers can lean into the 5 drivers to leverage the momentum for streetscaping:

  1. Disruption: NYC streets look & feel totally different — there’s an opportunity for a mindset shift from outdoor structures being disruptive, a temporary solution and an eye sore, to being a benefit that beautifies and revitalizes the city.

5. Social Impact: Streetscaping democratizes urban revitalization because it’s not just for five-star restaurants in upscale neighborhoods. Its effects can bring up the value of lower-income neighborhoods too. Think Union Square Cafe, which turned the once-seedy Union Square into a bustling area by inspiring other restaurants on the street to also up their game.

Best Days Ahead,
Mike