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Jun 25, 2013 05:40 AM

EatWith - restaurant version of AirBnB

Right now it's just in Israel and Spain, but is looking to expand to New York and Brazil. As someone who lives in Jerusalem - the Israeli options look pretty expensive and comparable to restaurant eating. But for tourists, I could see it providing a unique experience. Though not necessarily a better one than could be gotten from carefully researching good restaurant options.

Would this be something that would appeal to other CHers when traveling? I've never been to Spain, so I don't know how the Spain prices compare to Spanish restaurants - but the Israeli prices are really comparable (if not higher) to what you'd pay in midrange to nice restaurants per person.

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  1. Funny, when I was commenting on the other thread (Quick Link below) with the Community Mgr. of EatWith, I mentioned by comparison.

    EatWith is looking for new hosts to add to their lineup. Did you see that post, cresyd? Here's the link:

    7 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      Ah, no, I missed that.

      I definitely would not want to be a host - but there's something about the cost that strikes me as odd. Part of the appeal of AirBnB (as I understand it) is that it's cheaper than a hotel. If I skim the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem listings - they're clearly far cheaper than hotels. However EatWith costs on average are in the mid to high range for a meal.

      Not one of the meals listed (that I saw) is under 100 shekels (~$28) - an amount that can get you a nice meal if you pay attention to where you're going. And one of the meals is listed at costing just over 1000 shekels (~$278) - which is advertised as being hosted by a professional chef....but there are very few restaurants in the country where the cost per diner for a full meal, plus tip, plus alcohol is ever that much. And that's where alcohol is being marked up by the restaurant.

      So basically the service is saying that the value of eating in someone's home with other random travelers is worth the cost of a pricey meal in a restuarant. I gather this is where I clearly have reservations about whether or not this sounds appealing.

      1. re: cresyd

        I think it's too soon to know what the market will allow. Right now having someone prepare your meal and sustain a new service to run the reservations, host the offers is based on only a few listed choices. I've used the airbnb service six times. Their membership has exploded since the launch - so much so that tax fees have been looked at recently. EatWtih has a ways to go before it can compare itself to airbnb but I'll be watching to see how the service grows. Without hosts it won't.

        But this type of goods sharing as a business model has taken off in many areas of consumer service and I love the creativity, global reach and options. Grassroots, people to people sharing.

        1. re: HillJ

          I agree that it's still too early to tell exactly where it's going. At the moment though, it feels a bit more like a moderator to connect professional/semi-professional cooks to interested diners. Not that there can't be a niche for that - but if that's what it ends up being, then vetting the quality of the cooks will be more and more important.

          1. re: cresyd

            That's so true. Along with the earliest participants being both satisfied and verbal about sharing what a wonderful dining experience they've had.

            Airbnb does a solid job of admin'ing the site but the success lies in written guest views and the abundance of options.

            1. re: HillJ

              Exactly. 1000 shekels plus is beyond too expensive for me for any dinner - let alone one at a make shift dinner party where I hope I get along with other guests - but even the ones that are within the range of the upper end of what I'm spending, I'm seriously going to need to be convinced. And honestly, probably not just by guest reviews, but also people I know personally.

              I'd never thought much of AirBnB as an option until I was talking to a friend (who's known for being hugely fussy about high quality hotels) and he just raved about a place where he stayed in Istanbul. If it worked for him, it got me thinking that it's definitely something to keep in mind.

              1. re: cresyd

                Word of mouth from people you know - def the best way to go.
                I will say this, we've become friendly with two of the people we began knowing after renting their place. I've traveled with the wife already of one place we stayed in Chicago. My kids use it and prefer the service over couchsurfing (and that's a free service).

                It will be interesting to see where EatWith leads..and what clones soon follow. Frankly I'd be surprised if there wasn't some type of regional service that professional chefs use now for clients willing to pay for private dining experiences...right?

                years ago my husband & I hired a retired butler (he worked for a NJ politician) who had ended his employment but started a small gig for himself cooking privately for people. 5 course meal (dinner) for a couple hundred bucks. His company and stories were worth the meal...and the meal was lovely. Found him after the news media ran his story. Very interesting life.

                1. re: HillJ

                  At this point it's definitely still something that's more an interesting idea than something I'd use. But in a way that something like Airbnb helps boost couch surfing websites (as an even lower rent option) - if EatWith stays in this price range, then there will definitely be room for cheaper clones to emerge.

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