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

Black and white Rideshare Pick-Up Zone sign

The Slow Death of Ride Sharing

From the beginning, TNCs like Lyft and Uber touted shared rides as their key product. Now, Lyft is ending the practice.

June 1, 2023 - Human Transit

Urban sidewalk shaded by large mature trees

Cool Walkability Planning

Shadeways (covered sidewalks) and pedways (enclosed, climate controlled walkways) can provide comfortable walkability in hot climates. The Cool Walkshed Index can help plan these facilities.

June 1, 2023 - Todd Litman

Traffic on the 405 interstate freeway through the Sepulveda Pass at Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles, California

Congestion Pricing Could Be Coming to L.A.

The infamously car-centric city is weighing a proposed congestion pricing pilot program to reduce traffic and encourage public transit use.

May 30, 2023 - Los Angeles Times

Wildfire threatening hillside homes in Yucaipa, California

Home Insurers Are Fleeing California

Homeowners in the state are finding it increasingly difficult to secure insurance policies thanks to the growing risks of wildfire, drought, and other climate threats.

June 7 - Curbed

Aerial view of terminus of Los Angeles River and port infrastructure in Long Beach, California

Los Angeles County Initiates Effort to Advance Equity in Infrastructure

L.A. County Public Works has launched an initiative to center equity in all of its processes, programming, and services as it plans, designs, builds, and maintains modern infrastructure that uplifts all communities of the county.

June 7 - Los Angeles County Public Works

Aerial view of pickleball court with players illuminated for nighttime play

Addressing the Noise Impacts of Pickleball

Pickleball may be America's fastest growing sport, but it is not universally loved because of the noise it causes. Learn one expert's ideas for mitigating the noise impacts.

June 7 - The Hustle

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.