6 Group Dining Programs for Neighbors

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Group of happy friends eating and toasting at garden barbecue -Airbnb users are sharing their homes with strangers, Lyft drivers are sharing their cars with strangers, and now a handful of group dining programs have people inviting virtual strangers inside their kitchens. Utilizing a concept that was briefly discussed by Maven Ventures Founder Jim Scheinman in a panel at the Street Fight Summit West in June, these hyperlocal marketplaces are taking the sharing economy to the next level and offering a win/win proposition for people who are interested in getting to know their neighbors while also making extra money on the side.

Here are six group-dining programs for people who’d like to get to know their neighbors.

1. Feastly: Reserve a seat at a neighbor’s table.
Feastly is a service that gives people a way to reserve seats at their neighbors’ dinner tables. Users search for meals in Feastly’s marketplace based on what’s being served — for example, tacos or Vietnamese food — and they book “seats” through the online platform. Hosts can utilize Feastly’s integrated scheduling and messaging tools help with event marketing and planning, and payments are managed entirely through the digital platform. Hosts can set their own prices, and they can set house rules (like no shoes inside).

2. EatWith: Dine with the locals.
Sometimes described as “Airbnb for dinner parties,” EatWith offers a way for people to dine in the homes of local while they travel. Available in more than a dozen major cities worldwide, EatWith gives travelers a way to enjoy authentic meals with locals in different cities and countries. Users search by location and meal type (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.) and they pay for their meals through the online platform. EatWith charges up to a 15% service fee on top of the host’s price in exchange for processing the reservation. For an additional layer of security, EatWith also protects hosts with up to $1 million in third-party insurance coverage.

3: Airbnb: Have home-cooked meals in other people’s homes.
For the past few months, Airbnb has been running a pilot dining program. Through this program, hosts in San Francisco are being encouraged to invite other users into their homes for communal meals. Although prices can vary, depending on what a host decides to serve and charge, they average around $25 to $30 per person for anything from locally-sourced brunches to three-course dinners. The experience is being billed by Airbnb as a great way for its hosts to meet new people, many of whom are travelers from around the globe.

4. Bookalokal: Meet new people who have a passion for food.
Designed for travelers, locals, and people who are moving to new cities, Bookalokal is a marketplace where hosts — who include food bloggers and amateur chefs — post about upcoming dinner parties, brunches, food tours, wine events, and group cooking classes held in their homes. Hosts have the option to post scheduled or unscheduled events, and they can set a minimum or maximum number of guests. Guests pay for their meals through Bookalokal at the time of booking, and hosts are paid by Bookalokal within 24 hours of their events.

5. Cookening: Host a dinner party for strangers.
Cookening was designed to connect travelers with locals who have a passion for authentic cuisine. At-home chefs who enjoy throwing dinner parties can get “verified and validated” by Cookening, and they can post all their best meal suggestions in the online marketplace. Travelers are then able to “book” a seat at these at-home meals. Hosts have the ability to accept or decline these reservations after talking to the guest through Cookening’s platform, and it’s only after a reservation has been accepted that the host’s address is visible to the guest.

6. LeftoverSwap: See what your neighbors ate for dinner.
LeftoverSwap is a mobile marketplace that connects people who have leftovers with people who are looking for a cheap bite to eat. People who cook too much food for their families can take photos of anything they can’t finish, and they can share those images, along with brief descriptions of their meals, through LeftoverSwap app. People can then browse LeftoverSwap to view available leftovers in their neighborhood. Arrangements for pickup or delivery are made through LeftoverSwap’s mobile chat feature. LeftoverSwap bills itself as a great way for people to meet their neighbors and also prevent wastefulness at the same time.

Know of other group dining marketplaces? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.