Rosanna Scotto, rear left, and her sister Elaina Scotto

MONEY & BUSINESS: NYC restaurant owners slam new street shed rules

Owners of small restaurants fumed over new City Council guidelines that will force them to scrap street sheds — big investments that run as high as six figures and have come to account for a major chunk of their business.

The “streeteries,” which sprouted during the pandemic as struggling restaurants tried to lure skittish diners, will only be allowed between April and November under the City Council bill proposed last Thursday.

Rosanna Scotto, co-owner of Fresco by Scotto on East 52nd Street, said it might be too costly to dismantle its popular “Isle of Capri”-themed structure and reassemble it four months later.

She and her sister Elaina spent over $150,000 to erect the fanciful cabin in 2021, the “Good Day New York” anchor said.

“It isn’t just made of wood,” Scotto said, “but also of metal and concrete. It has heaters and fans and flowers.”

Aside from the cost of the shed, the lost revenue may push many restaurateurs to not only scrap their streeteries but close their kitchens for good.

Maureen Donohue-Peters, owner of historic Donohue’s Steakhouse on Lexington Avenue, said her 40-seat shed of steel and plexiglass brings in 35% of the venue’s business.

“If I were to lose that and not be able to get it back inside the restaurant, it would force me to think of other options including closing,” she said.

Rosanna Scotto and her sister Elaina spent over $150,000 to erect the fanciful cabin in 2021, the “Good Day New York” anchor said.
James Messerschmidt for NY Post

 Scotto restaurant
The cabin at the NYC restaurant.
James Messerschmidt for NY Post

Under the proposed bill, restaurants with existing street seating will have to apply for new licenses and observe unspecified design guidelines from the Department of Transportation.

In historic districts, plans must also be blessed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

If approved by the full council, the new regulations  would go into effect in November 2024.

The measure has the support of Mayor Eric Adams.

“There were rules, but in my opinion, many did not follow them so you had the wild West,” said Simon Oren, whose restaurants with outdoor seating include Dagon on the Upper West Side and Marseille in West Midtown.

Donohue's Steak House outdoor dining shed
Maureen Donohue-Peters, the owner of historic Donohue’s Steakhouse on Lexington Avenue, said her 40-seat shed of steel and plexiglass brings in 35% of the venue’s business.
Brian Zak/NY Post

“We all got a bad impression of them even though they helped us tremendously in the first two years,” Oren added.

“Now they’re not as important as they were.”

Eatery empires such as Quality Branded — which owns eight high-volume Manhattan restaurants including Smith & Wollensky — can also afford to dismantle their lavish setups, according to owner Michael Stillman.

Stillman estimates his 40-seat “green village” on West 55th Street outside Quality Bistro cost “well over $100,000” to construct and will cost $20,000 to demolish.

He said the shed accounts for 10% percent of revenue at Quality Bistro, which has 180 indoor seats.

“If we have to take it down, we’ll take it down,” Stillman said.

“Some can afford it more than others [and] I hope the city can help with that.”

Quality Bistro
The shed at Quality Bistro accounts for 10% percent of revenue.
Stefano Giovannini for NY Post

But independent owners lament the added costs.

“If restaurants have to disband their outdoor structures in the fall, it will create a recurring annual cost of labor and material, considering restaurants would like to resume outdoor dining in the spring/summer,” said Kwang Ho Lee, owner of Momoya SoHo.

Old John’s Luncheonette, a retro-style diner on West 67th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, also fears a hit to its bottom line.

Its street shed charmingly resembles the restaurant’s interior, with green-and-yellow vinyl booths and formica table tops.

A street shed at Old John’s Luncheonette at West 67th Street.
Steve Cuozzo/NY Post

Inside the street shed of Old John's Luncheonette
Inside of the street shed of Old John’s Luncheonette.
Steve Cuozzo/NY Post

Manager Ricardo Palofox said his 24 outdoor seats account for 40% of John’s business — although it has 50 seats indoors.

The cabin cost between $15,000-20,000 to build, he said.

“When we take it down, we might lose customers who came just for that. People seem to love it,” Palofax said.

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