NYC to reinstate ban on propane heaters for outdoor dining

NEW YORK – New York restaurants will not be allowed to use propane heaters to heat their outdoor dining areas this coming winter, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday, citing concerns about fire safety and sustainability.

Many restaurants and bars in five boroughs invested in propane heaters for their outdoor dining areas last year after the city temporarily lifted its ban on indoor dining during the pandemic-induced hiatus. However, a spokesman for de Blasio confirmed on Wednesday that the ban will be gradually reintroduced.

What you need to know

  • New York City will no longer allow restaurants to use propane heaters to warm their outdoor dining areas
  • The city temporarily lifted the ban last year to allow bars and restaurants to heat their outdoor areas while indoor dining paused
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio said the decision to reintroduce the ban was due to fire safety and sustainability issues
  • The NYC Hospitality Alliance, which represents thousands of New York City restaurants and bars, said the reinstatement would deal a “blow” to restaurants looking to recover from the pandemic

“Look, I really listened to the fire department. They are the health and safety experts when it comes to propane, ”said the mayor at his daily briefing on Thursday morning. “[The] The fire brigade feels strong, and I agree with them: Propane has to run out. ”

Open restaurant attendees who spent money on propane heaters last year are eligible for grants of up to $ 5,000 from the city to buy electric and natural gas heaters before the winter season, the NYC Hospitality Alliance, which has thousands of New York restaurants – mentioned in a press release.

But the Alliance condemned the city’s decision as a “blow to restaurants hoping to return to propane heating as they are still trying to recover from the pandemic,” adding that “no security incidents” reported last year in which the heaters were involved.

James Mallios, the managing partner of Amali restaurant in Manhattan, is now looking for the best options to warn his outdoor diners this winter.

“After I talk to you and walk to Home Depot and see that all the electric heaters are sold out, I’ll figure out how to rent a car and go to Louisiana to buy electric heaters for $ 1,500, which is an eighth that Propane heaters are strong, ”Mallios told NY1 reporter Stef Manisero.

Mallios said that on any given day, between 25% and 50% of the restaurant’s revenue comes from outdoor seating.

The fire department says no incidents involving propane were reported last winter when propane heating was allowed.

Mallios says after all the pandemic battles, the city’s decision is another blow.

“We can have them in Nassau and Westchester and LA and Suffolk, but not NYC?” He said.

When asked what Amali means to him, it took him a few minutes to find the words.

“They call it the house, you know, like the front of the house, the back of the house, they call it the house,” Mallios said. “And I think for all of us who have overcome the pandemic and all these challenges, House is not enough. Home is the word. “

While de Blasio admitted on Thursday that the city had a “good experience” when it allowed restaurants and bars to use propane heating last winter, he said the ban was only lifted because “everything was in dire straits” .

“Now that we’re talking about a long-term approach – outdoor dining has been an amazing success; I want it to be part of future New York City for years to come – but we need to make sure now that it is sustainable, safe and done the right way, ”he said. “So we’re giving the restaurants the next month to do that. We support financially. ”

“They know that the investment they are making in a new solution is a long-term investment that they can count on,” he added. “So it’s about safety and it’s about sustainability.”

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