City of Yes for Restaurants: Dancing Allowed in More Establishments

New York City is known for its iconic restaurants and vibrant nightlife, but the two don’t always overlap. This month, the NYC Hospitality Alliance met with Mayor Adams and the Office of Nightlife to discuss issues facing the hospitality industry. This meeting coincided with the City Council’s approval of eliminating restrictions on dancing in many bars and restaurants, a major victory for the Hospitality Alliance. This change is part of Mayor Adams’ plan to boost economic opportunity in the city. 

The “Footloose” restrictions originally required establishments to obtain a license to permit dancing, but New York’s “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” is doing away with this infrastructure. Businesses with dancing fell under Group 12, as opposed to eating/drink establishments as per the NYC Community Board. To allow dancing, restaurants must obtain a Certificate of Occupancy or a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy. Previously, zoning regulations only allowed dancing in establishments that could accommodate over 200 people. This will hopefully create job growth, help businesses expand, and update outdated zoning codes, claims Mayor Adams.  

The “City of Yes” initiative is partially aimed at minority and immigrant-owned restaurants and bars to expand and foster a strong customer base, uplifting the culture of these businesses which is heavily based on dancing on music. The majority of these laws have been antiquated for years. The issue of dancing in restaurants has been a battle since 2017 when the city repealed a license requirement passed in 1926 as part of the Cabaret Law. This prohibition-era law prohibited dancing in public spaces that sold food and drink unless they had a cabaret license. In 2017, only 97 out of around 25,000 establishments had a cabaret license, predating the first upturn of the archaic law. After a series of “noise complaint” related violations, New York businesses rose against the regulations that were hurting their business.  

The trend of hybrid clubs/restaurants is increasing in popularity, for example, Zero Bond. The “City of Yes” initiative will allow restauranteurs to take advantage of this and capitalize on their future. Businesses that have different revenue centers and many employees like a club/restaurant combo are often complicated accounting ventures. Paperchase has worked with some of the most well-known examples of this trend like Bagatelle, Sexyfish, and Seaspice so our accountants are well-versed in helping complex operations.  

Ultimately, an end to these regulations saves business owners the stress of not only being fined or shut down but also from a mountain of paperwork that can take months to get approved. The reversal of these zoning laws puts businesses and culture first, ushering in a period of economic growth for the industry. Have questions about zoning regulations or fees? Speak to your Paperchase hospitality accountant for more information.  

Image of a happy crowd in a restaurant: