City dwellers – including car owners – prefer outdoor dining space over parking spots

Linley SandersSenior Data Journalist
June 10, 2021, 1:00 PM UTC

As indoor dining shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants expanded their outdoor dining set-ups into the side of roadways. These street-side outdoor dining set-ups often took the place of street parking in many areas, especially in cities.   

A YouGov poll of 17,440 US adults indicates that Americans tend to prefer the outdoor dining set-ups (41%) over a return to parking spots (32%). City dwellers prefer the outdoor dining set-ups by a 16-point margin (46% say outdoor dining, 30% say parking spots). Additional eating space is also preferred by suburbanites (40% vs 34%) and those who live in a town (41% vs 30%). Rural communities are more split on the topic: 33% favor outdoor dining, while 35% would want the parking spots back. 

Even adults who own or lease cars will take the al fresco restaurant space (40%) over parking spots (34%), and this preference actually expands further for city dwellers with cars (48% vs 33%).

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Methodology: 17,440 US adults were asked, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants were allowed to expand their outdoor dining set-ups into the side of the street. These roadside outdoor dining set-ups took the place of street parking in many areas. Moving forward, as restaurants are allowed to resume their indoor dining, would you prefer that these streets remain as outdoor dining set-ups for restaurants, or return to parking spots?” Response options: Remain as outdoor dining set-ups, Return to being parking spots, Don’t know. The results were weighted to be nationally representative of the United States. 

Image: Getty