These Outdoor Dining Structures And Open Streets Won ‘Alfresco’ Awards

All the brouhaha around the 34th Avenue Open Street notwithstanding, the 1.3-mile stretch in Jackson Heights is now an award-winning car-free zone.

The Alfresco Awards — a new prize created by the Regional Plan Association, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Design Trust for Public Space, and New York Community Trust — have honored outdoor dining structures, Open Streets, and collaborative neighborhood efforts that emerged during the pandemic.

“The work continues to make outdoor dining and Open Streets a permanent fixture of the city, but these winners show us what a future with equitable and people-focused streetscapes looks like,” said Tri-State Transportation Campaign executive director Renae Reynolds in a statement.

In addition to 34th Avenue, the award-winning Open Streets include TAMA Sundays in Brooklyn (Tompkins Avenue between Gates and Halsey Streets), Stapleton Saturdays in Staten Island (Van Duzer Street between Beach and Wright Streets), and Piazza di Belmont on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

“Launched in July 2020 as a response to the shutdown of indoor dining, we implemented this first-ever piazza-style al fresco dining plan on Arthur Avenue to help support local businesses in the Bronx’s Little Italy, many of which have been operating for over a century and survived the 1918 pandemic and Great Depression,” said Peter Madonia, the head of the Belmont Business Improvement District.

Oma Holloway, who coordinates the Tompkins Avenue/TAMA Sundays, said the program has been a success because they’ve worked with the locals, “We really need to have community input and not be afraid to negotiate and really make sure that people understand the importance and have a vested interest in it.”

The Alfresco Award-winners, which were selected by a panel of journalists, transportation experts, and hospitality industry professionals, also received $500 prizes.

According to the organizers, winning restaurants were chosen based on their use of sustainable materials, their accessibility, and the overall visual style of their outdoor dining arrangements.

an outdoor dining setup at Peaches Kitchen and Bar in Brooklyn

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The outdoor dining structures at Peaches Kitchen and Bar in Brooklyn include sustainable power sources.

courtesy of Alfresco NYC

For example, Peaches Kitchen and Bar, a Black-owned restaurant on Lewis Avenue in Brooklyn, was recognized for its use of upcycled plastic bottles to construct its “friendship cabin” dining booths.

Along with Open Streets and individual restaurants, two awards went to collaborative efforts to transform street space in a given neighborhood.

One award went to a group called Assembly for Chinatown, which created outdoor dining spaces that local restaurants could use, but at no cost to the struggling businesses themselves. And in Koreatown, a group of second-story restaurants came together to form Maiden Korea, a shared seating set-up in a nearby vacant lot.

outdoor dining structures in Koreatown

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Multiple Koreatown restaurants took over a vacant lot by 316 5th Ave.

courtesy of Alfresco NYC

“Not too long ago, this was a demolition site whose hopes and dreams were also crushed by the pandemic,” said Edward Song, a Maiden Korea organizer. “Though our team was impacted — we lost all our restaurants — we mustered the courage to take on a bigger problem, the vibrancy of Koreatown, as a way to move forward.”

Below is the complete list of winning restaurants:

Casa La Femme

140 Charles Street, Manhattan

casa la femme's outdoor dining arrangement

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Egyptian restaurant Casa La Femme used real plants to enhance its outdoor setup.

courtesy of Alfresco NYC

Empire Diner

210 10th Avenue, Mahattan

the outdoor dining booths at Empire Diner

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The outdoor dining structure at Empire Diner.

courtesy of Alfresco NYC

Vinum

704 Bay Street, Staten Island

the outdoor seating arrangement at Vinum on Staten Island

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Vinum, an Italian restaurant in Staten Island, aligned its outdoor dining structure with the slope of the street.

courtesy of Alfresco NYC

Kokomo

65 Kent Ave, Brooklyn

the outdoor dining structure at the restaurant Kokomo

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Kokomo in Williamsburg made sure its outdoor dining structure is wheelchair-accessible.

Clay Williams/New York Times/courtesy of Alfresco NYC

Peaches Kitchen and Bar

393 Lewis Avenue, Brooklyn

the outdoor dining structure at Peaches Kitchen and Bar

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Peaches Kitchen and Bar created multiple structures with sustainable materials.

courtesy of Alfresco NYC

Blend Astoria

37-17 30th Ave, Queens

the outdoor dining structure at Blend in Astoria

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The Latin American restaurant Blend created an especially colorful structure.

courtesy of Alfresco NYC

Boogie Down Grind

868 Hunts Point Ave, The Bronx

the exterior of Boogie Down Grind in the Bronx

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Boogie Down Grind used its outdoor space to hold local events in an area with few outdoor dining options.

courtesy of Alfresco NYC

Additional reporting by Katherine Fung

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