If someone told me 10 years ago that in the future, I would prefer to stay in a stranger’s home rather than a hotel, chances are I probably wouldn’t have believed them. But the success of Airbnb has changed all that. A new company called EatWith is essentially the Airbnb for the restaurant industry.
This platform was originally built with tourists in mind to avoid tourist-trap restaurants. Just think: If you’re traveling in Italy, why go to Olive Garden when you can have an authentic, home cooked Italian meal? Users pay the host a fee for each guest, and EatWith collects 15%.
It makes sense, but there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about this concept. For one, hypothetically I could be a host – but I would imagine my guests would be more likely to run screaming from my Brooklyn home due to my inept cooking skills.
With optimistic hopes of avoiding these situations, EatWith has issued “EatWith Verified” badges. What this means is that an EatWith employee has approved the food quality, venue, and the host’s interpersonal skills and cleanliness. As EatWith scales to different cities, they explain they will rely on their community members to gauge the quality of potential hosts. If that fails and a host leaves their guest feeling sick, the EatWith Guarantee protects hosts with a third-party $1M insurance plan.
Since launching, EatWith focused solely on Tel Aviv, Israel and Barcelona. The company announced at Disrupt this week that starting in June, their newest location will be right here in New York City. As of right now, there are a great deal of travelers looking to the platform but interestingly enough, EatWith staff found that the majority of guests were signing up for events in their own communities. Will food be the common ground that gets New Yorkers to befriend their neighbors? Time will tell.