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Over the past year, restaurateurs and diners alike have embraced outdoor dining — it’s a fixture of pandemic life that many are happy to see become a permanent part of our city landscape. Now, your favorite streetside spaces can get the recognition they deserve (and a boost to their business) via the Alfresco Awards, a new program that’s been dubbed “the Oscars of outdoor dining” by the Wall Street Journal.
The Alfresco Awards are one part of a larger initative called Alfresco NYC, organized by a coalition of nonprofits, the Design Trust for Public Space, Regional Plan Association (RPA), and Tri-State Transportation Campaign. The competition will award $500 cash prizes and free publicity to the best outdoor dining spaces that demonstrate innovation in design and sustainability, promote community partnerships, and provide safe, accessible spaces for all patrons.
The wider aim of the program is to develop a series of design guidelines for outdoor spaces to reference going forward and provide support for the city’s culinary scene as it rebounds after the pandemic. The project is funded by a $400,000 donation from the New York Community Trust.
Last month, it was revealed that around 8,500 parking spaces had been repurposed for outdoor dining setups. “In the midst of an unprecedented crisis, Open Streets and Outdoor Dining provided a desperately needed outlet for the resourcefulness, creativity and resilience of small businesses,” said Katie Schwab, a member of the board of the Design Trust for Public Space, in a press statement. “In the process, these programs demonstrated the potential of re-imagined streetscapes across diverse neighborhoods, uniting New Yorkers in recovery efforts.”
“More than simply a place to move and store cars, they are a pathway to opportunity and a vibrant space for community,” added Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “By recognizing street life, Alfresco NYC celebrates what’s possible in NYC, and demands more across our remaining 6,000 miles of streets.”
The application portal is now open for nominations and anyone can participate, restaurateurs can even nominate themselves. A jury of yet-to-be-announced experts will select the winners in early July. What HK spots are you nominating?