Washington, D.C.-based CookNook is merging with Homemade, as the New York City-based startup expands into new markets on a $2.1 million seed round of funding. Connecting people who like to cook at home with people who like to eat home-cooked meals is one of those simple but potentially fruitful startup ideas, and it’s one that Homemade has Read the full article…
The conventional restaurant model is dying, and that’s a good thing. No longer is a single restaurateur or type of cuisine assigned to a single property. It’s all about feeling the foodie love and sharing space. Spurred by the artisan food movement and more people moving into urban centers, shared dining spaces are the new normal. These restaurants are an extension of the sharing economy we’ve come to embrace through Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft.
Meal sharing has been dubbed the Airbnb of food, and platforms like Feastly and EatWith, both based in San Francisco, and Meal Sharing, headquartered in Chicago, are gaining traction in New York. Micro-entrepreneurs use them to promote in-home supper clubs, cooking classes, and personal chef and catering services. But in a city where the competition includes some of the world’s best-known restaurants, many chefs have found it’s not easy to make a full-time living on the platforms. Noah Karesh, co-founder and chief executive of Feastly, which was launched in 2013 and raised $1.5 million in seed money in November, said food-service platforms like his “are extremely good at empowering micro-entrepreneurship.” But by his account, 90% of those on the site earn a supplemental, not full-time, income.
What service industries will tech demolish next? As Lyft and Uber have dismantled taxi monopolies and Airbnb has undermined formerly impenetrable hotel chains, prophets of the sharing economy are buzzing that the restaurant will be the next great institution to crumble. Meal-sharing start-ups–Feastly, Eatwith, CookApp and VoulezVousDiner–seem to make this easy. Why travel across town to an anonymous hole in the wall or wait a month for a reservation? Now, all that you need to do is browse a few profiles, pay online, and then show up at someone’s house.
Gone are the days of calling your reliable (if somewhat-bland) hotel chain of choice to book a room and boarding a crowded, underserved airplane. Now, you can explore a city in the exact car of your choosing and even journey to an exotic destination without relying on a travel agent to coordinate your excursions and reservations. Travel is tipping toward the do-it-yourself: favoring unique, peer-to-peer services rather than the brand-made itinerary. A handful of new apps and websites are culling local insight and pioneering collaborative services to reclaim the travel industry from major corporations.
If you think you can tell the difference between a pop-up, an underground dinner and meal sharing, wait a few months, and the distinctions may evolve. EatWith, a San Francisco-based meal sharing site, offers members access to dinners cooked in private homes. (The Chron wrote about meal sharing a few months ago.) In the Bay Area, EatWith’s dinners are well curated but not as numerous or varied as the events that take place in Tel Aviv, where the company originated, and Barcelona, the city it first branched out to.
Anyone who travels a lot knows that eating in restaurants every night can get tiresome. At the same time, a trend in travel the last few years has been to not just skim the surface of a destination, to really immerse oneself in it and interact with locals. Those two strands converge in websites such as www.eatwith.com and the recently launched Feastly that give travelers to a city the opportunity to book a meal in someone’s home.
Jay Savsani used to build startup MVPs for other people’s dreams. “When people ask me if Meal Sharing is my first startup. I’m like, ‘It’s my… 40th?’” A few years ago he decided he had found his own dream he was ready to realize – creating an online platform that brings hosts and guests together over home-cooked meals around the world. He sat down with me and “just flowed” about how he loves sharing economies, is a little delusional and believes in the power of a home-cooked meal.
Are you a responsible traveler wondering how to effectively support local economies while traveling? Epicure & Culture caught up with Richard McCarthy, the executive director of Slow Food USA, to learn some delicious ways to do this on the road and go local.
Lucky for us, there is now an Airbnb for foodies! Sites like Meal Sharing and EatWith are taking travel cuisine to a new level. Eliminate the stress of trying to find a decent place to eat while traveling. Join a meal in the town you’re visiting and interact with locals for an unforgettable experience. Sign up with Meal Sharing and EatWith and browse through cities worldwide to find your next table to join.