A New York City restaurant is using a dining shed meant to help struggling restaurants through the COVID-19 pandemic as an art gallery, prompting a reprimand from the city’s Department of Transportation. Photo courtesy Google Maps
Aug. 20 (UPI) -- A New York City restaurant is using a dining shed meant to help struggling restaurants through the COVID-19 pandemic as an art gallery, prompting a reprimand from the city's Department of Transportation.
Photos and videos posted to Instagram show artists partying in a graffitied street shed and listening to electronic music outside of Cheese Grille in lower Manhattan well into the night while hawking paintings with $200 price tags.
A listing on Eventbrite shows that organizers planned "a weeklong party with bands every night" through Saturday which has now been extended through Sunday.
"SHOW EXTENDED THROUGH SUNDAY. Pull up tonight. We're here til late!!!" the Instagram account 0h10m1ke posted.
Vin Barone, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, told the New York Post that "dining spaces are required to be used for one purpose -- dining."
"We are following up with this business to remind them of this rule," Barone said.
The makeshift gallery has sparked outrage from local residents who spoke to the New York Post, including Diem Boyd of the anti-shed advocacy group LES Dwellers.
"At the height of the pandemic, we understood the point of these sheds and supporting small businesses," she said.
"I frequent Cheese Grille all the time. My daughter loves it. But the sheds have become an abusive program. It feeds into the blight that we're seeing around the city."
In February, the New York City Council passed legislation to form a permanent program to keep outdoor dining however there is no official permit process for building the sheds. Restaurants simply submit basic info into an online application before building.
The reprimand from the Transportation Department came just weeks after a group of New York residents filed a lawsuit seeking an end to the outdoor dining shacks built during the pandemic that they say has led to a boom in trash and rats.
The residents said the Temporary Outdoor Restaurant program implemented in June 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to "increased and excessive noise, traffic congestion, garbage and uncontrolled rodent populations and the blocking of sidewalks and roadways."
The lawsuit also says the program "also continues to appropriate substantial share of public sidewalks and streets for private use and profit."
On Tuesday, two Manhattan-based artists were asked by members of the Parks Enforcement Patrol to remove signs displaying their names while exhibiting their work at Pier 45 in Hudson River Park, Hyperallergic reported.
Michael Alan Alien and Jadda Cat alleged to Hyperallergic that law enforcement officers forced them out of Christopher Street Pier.
"It was a really quiet afternoon there and we had our easel set up, sitting near the stairs where we always do, just minding our own business," Alan told Hyperallergic.
"I don't understand why we were the focus. In my opinion, parks are meant for people to use, and not under such controlling stipulations. Drawing the water is not a crime."
A spokesperson for NYC Parks told Hyperallergic that New York City laws specifically prohibit the sale of art outside of designated areas and posted times.