Americans Have Fallen in Love With Outdoor Dining

Started as a response to pandemic restrictions, al fresco dining has taken off as customers, restaurant owners, and city officials realize the social and economic benefits of outdoor dining spaces.

1 minute read

August 29, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Busy restaurant seating on New York City sidewalk during COVID-19 pandemic

Domes shelter outdoor dining tables in Chicago, Illinois. | Renata Ty / Outdoor dining in New York City

In a paywalled article in the Boston Globe, Yvonne Abraham describes the persistent popularity of the outdoor dining programs that proliferated during the pandemic. As Abraham points out, “The trend is evolving well beyond the stopgap measures of construction barriers and plastic cones. Five-star hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants are transforming it from shabby to chic.”

And the form is evolving: “It’s taking the form of pop-ups, picnics, cocktail gardens, and poolside dining. Gourmet cuisine is being offered up in caves, heated yurts, and converted ski gondolas, and on tables in the shallows of the ocean.” Restaurants are making creative use of nearby spaces to create entirely unique experiences and an added draw for tourists.

According to the National Restaurant Association, forty percent of consumers say they’re more likely to choose a restaurant with outdoor seating. Many restaurants that began with temporary seating installations that were broken down at the end of the night are shifting to more permanent designs. Even as fears of COVID-19 subside, customers seem to enjoy the diversity of options offered by al fresco dining, and cities have started to extend programs slated for termination and relax rules related to outdoor dining facilities.

Thursday, August 25, 2022 in Boston Globe

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