Outdoor dining

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(Redirected from Al fresco dining)
Al fresco dining
Restaurant in New York City during COVID-19 emergency rules

Outdoor dining, also known as al fresco dining or dining al fresco, is the act of eating a meal outside.

In temperate climates, al fresco dining is especially popular in the summer months when temperatures and weather are most favorable. It is a style of dining that is casual and often party-like in its atmosphere.[1]

In order to promote and accommodate the pedestrian activity and vibrancy associated with al fresco dining, some communities have passed ordinances permitting it at restaurants, including the service of food and alcoholic beverages to customers at pavement tables, until late at night.[2]


The phrase al fresco composed of two words, is borrowed from Italian for "in the cool/fresh [air]". It is not in current use in Italian to refer to dining outside. Instead, Italians use the phrases fuori ("outside", "outdoor") or all'aperto ("in the open [air]").[3] In Italian, the expression al fresco usually refers to spending time in jail.[4]

COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

Outdoor dining pods at Trentham Gardens

In 2020, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, many cities increased the options for restaurants to offer outdoor dining, in order to promote open space, encourage social distancing, and help businesses economically recover from the pandemic's impact.[5]

In New York City, 10,600 restaurants had enrolled in the city's outdoor dining program by September 2020, compared to just 1,023 sidewalk cafes that existed before the pandemic.[6] The use of bubble tents or outdoor dining pods also increased during the pandemic.[7][8] Before the pandemic, these pod installations were rare. Although outdoor pods reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 compared to indoor dining, they have been criticized for their lack of air ventilation.[9]

Some cities, such as New York and Portland, have taken steps to preserve outdoor dining installations that were originally introduced as a COVID-19 mitigation, albeit with new regulations and fee structures.[10][11] In other cities, such as Paris, Long Beach and Claremont, rollbacks to initially liberal pandemic-era dining policies have resulted in a significant decrease in the availability of outdoor dining.[12][13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stewart, Martha (June 26, 2009). "Dining Alfresco". NY Daily News. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  2. ^ "Upstate City Ok's Alfresco Dining". WYFF Channel 4. Internet Broadcasting Systems. June 15, 2009. Archived from the original on July 21, 2009. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  3. ^ Preble, Keith (July 1, 2014). "Word of the Day: stare al fresco". Parola del Giorno. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  4. ^ "Dizionario dei modi di dire" (in Italian). Fresco. Archived from the original on August 4, 2016. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  5. ^ "Open Restaurants". www1.nyc.gov. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
  6. ^ Hu, Winnie; Schweber, Nate (2020-11-09). "The Setups for Outdoor Winter Dining Are Lavish. But Are They Safe?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-12-04.
  7. ^ Forster, Victoria. "Why 'Bubble Dining' Pods Are a Terrible Idea During the Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-04-11.
  8. ^ "Outdoor Dining Ideas for Restaurants in the Era of COVID". mcdonaldpaper.com. Retrieved 2021-04-11.
  9. ^ Stone, Will. "Yurts, Igloos and Pop-Up Domes: How Safe Is 'Outside' Restaurant Dining This Winter?". Shots. NPR. Retrieved 2021-08-18.
  10. ^ Wray, Sarah (2023-08-17). "New York makes outdoor dining permanent – with new rules". Cities Today. Retrieved 2023-10-30.
  11. ^ Foden-Vencil, Kristian (December 10, 2022). "COVID changed our lives, and our streets, as outdoor restaurant seating becomes permanent". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved 2023-10-30.
  12. ^ "Seulement 4.000 des 12.000 terrasses estivales validées à Paris". www.20minutes.fr (in French). 2022-03-27. Retrieved 2023-10-30.
  13. ^ Schuster, Kat (2023-02-08). "Here's why all of Long Beach's COVID-era parklets have disappeared". Long Beach Post News. Retrieved 2023-10-30.
  14. ^ Rojas, Javier (2023-03-03). "Claremont ends pandemic-era outdoor dining program". Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Retrieved 2023-10-30.