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Outdoor winter dining returning to Syracuse

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)

The city of Syracuse is bringing back a popular activity: outdoor winter dining. Mayor Ben Walsh said the new guidelines allow restaurants and bars with outdoor sidewalk café permits to continue serving customers outside into the winter months.

Walsh said this is the second year the city has offered this option to businesses in an attempt to help them boost their profits.

"One of the challenges that all businesses have is navigating the red tape of government,” said Walsh. “We try very hard to streamline the processes, but the pandemic really forced us to do it with a greater sense of urgency and creativity."

In the fight against COVID-19, the CDC said outdoor activities are safer, so outdoor dining will allow restaurants to serve more customers, who have different levels of comfort.

The businesses will be able to install outdoor vestibules, awnings, and seating in exchange for keeping those areas clear of snow and leaving enough room for pedestrians to walk by.

Walsh said it’s a practice that has already become common in some other snowy cities.

"It has pushed us to embrace the fact that we are a winter city,” said Walsh. “We have snow. It gets cold, but that doesn't have to stop us from enjoying our beautiful city and outdoor activities."

Walsh said the city hopes to make the new winter dining guidelines permanent.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.