Outdoor Dining Has Taken Over New York Streets, Now It Will Get Awards

New York City’s booming outdoor-dining program is about to get its own version of the Oscars.

The Alfresco Awards, a program honoring excellence in outdoor setups, will begin accepting nominations Wednesday. The program, created by three New York nonprofit organizations, will announce winners in early July, with the top 10 honorees receiving a $500 prize.

Recipients will be recognized in various categories. One category will focus on the best in sustainability, innovation and design in the al fresco spaces, while another will concentrate on safety and mobility. The idea, say organizers, is to showcase setups for outdoor dining that are practical and aesthetically pleasing, so as to set a standard for other restaurants.

Restaurants can nominate themselves for consideration, but the public is also invited to submit establishments for recognition. A panel, whose members are still to be determined, will pick the winners.

The city launched its outdoor-dining initiative, Open Restaurants, last year as a way to help dining establishments during the pandemic. The concept proved immensely popular, with more than 11,000 restaurants now participating.

Some restaurateurs have spent tens of thousands of dollars creating elaborate outdoor spaces. But organizers of the Alfresco Awards say they want to recognize proprietors who have planned their setups with creativity and thoughtfulness, regardless of expense.

“It’s not just to say what looks the most expensive, but to understand the stories of these business owners,” said Matthew Clarke, executive director of Design Trust for Public Space, one of the nonprofit organizations behind the awards. The others involved in the awards are the Regional Plan Association and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

The Alfresco Awards initiative is part of a larger project, dubbed Alfresco NYC, by the three nonprofits that aims to provide guidelines for outdoor dining and support the city’s culinary scene. Alfresco NYC is funded with a $400,000 donation from the New York Community Trust.

A separate city program, Open Streets, lets communities create public space by limiting traffic and creating pedestrian-friendly areas. The Alfresco Awards will also let Open Streets organizers be nominated in the same categories as the restaurants.

Eating Out

More WSJ coverage of outdoor dining in New York, selected by the editors

Restaurateur Joey Campanaro said he planned to nominate his three establishments in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood—The Clam, Little Owl and Market Table—for the awards.

“I think all three are pretty amazing,” he said, pointing to some of the design touches he used, such as having roll-up plastic “windows.” It also helps, he said, that his business partner has a green thumb and has been good at integrating plant life into the spaces.

Sother Teague, a partner and chef at two East Village dining and drinking spots, Amor y Amargo and Etérea, also said he planned to nominate his places. He welcomed the idea of an Oscars for outdoor dining.

“People love to give attaboys,” he said.

Write to Charles Passy at cpassy@wsj.com

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Source: WSJ – US News

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