Have you heard about Grubwithus? It's basically a service where you can sign up for a group meal at a local restaurant, joining other people you probably don't yet know. Sometimes the meals have themes or hosts, but many are just random collections of interesting folks (you can see who else is attending before you register). The meal is a fixed price, family style deal - restaurants love it because it generates demand. Overall Grub is catching on and they just raised a second round of funding.
I'm a big believer that new services need to be actually tried before you can have an opinion, so last month Jason Shellen and I hosted a Grubwithus charity meal. This basically meant we scheduled a meal, bought two of the 12 seats ourselves, and worked with the Grub team to get all proceeds donated to charity (Architecture for Humanity, a charity we both support). After the restaurant's share was deducted from the ticket price, we raised ~$800, just by having a meal together with some new friends (we priced our meal at $100 but most are <$40). Being a new dad, my free time is increasingly scarce, but the serendipity of meeting interesting people while doing good (and getting fed) means I'll probably do this again (btw, charity meals will soon be a self-service feature but for now, if you want to host one pls email firstname.lastname@example.org).
A few other observations:
- Grub is KILLER for people new to town. I'd say half of our meal were people who only recently had moved to San Francisco. I also wonder how many tourists/daytrippers would use this to get a better flavor for a place they're visiting?
- One person was a repeat user (this was his 4th!). I think everyone else was new.
- I recognized one of the people from Twitter - it was fun to meet them in-person. I'd like a feature which lets me curate attendees more - for example, restrict it just to people who follow me on Twitter.
- Seemed like several of the attendees exchanged contact info but I think this could be better done automatically by the Grub system.
- I'm hoping to try out some affinity meals - bringing people together with common interests.
Thanks Sen for making this happen!