Nothing makes traveling to a new land more amazing than befriending a local or two. Meet the right person — someone outgoing, with knowledge of the locale — and it’s like punching in a cheat code. You’ll do better things, see better places, all while avoiding the generic tourist junk. But finding that person can be hard.
EatWith, a company presenting at Disrupt NY, wants to make it easier. It’s like Airbnb for breaking bread with locals in their own homes.
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Take the Airbnb concept of offering up your home as a sort of pseudo-hotel, but swap “hotel” with “restaurant”. Users pay the host for each guest (average prices seem to be about $35-$50 per guest per meal), and EatWith collects 15% off the top.
According to co-founder Guy Michlin, the desire to build EatWith came to him after a trip to Greece. His family was, by chance, invited into the home of a local family for dinner. A simple act, sure — but it was one that Guy still refers to as a “magical experience” for everyone involved. Guy and his family got to enjoy truly authentic Greek food (which he says “bore no resemblance” to that which they’d been served in restaurants) and culture, and it was the first time his host family had ever had anyone from Israel around their table.
“Most tourists won’t get a chance to meet the locals except maybe the Taxi driver, or the waiter in the restaurant,” says Guy. “but Eatwith aims to change this.”
Guests get an experience far removed from the standard series of tourist-traps, and the chance to make new, local friends in the process. Hosts, meanwhile, get to turn their kitchen into a micro-business and meet new people along the way. And if a host maybe undercooks the meal a bit and folks get sick? There’s a third party $1M insurance plan in place to keep hosts from feeling the heat.
Until today, EatWith had limited its focus to Tel Aviv, Israel and Barcelona, Spain. All in all, they have about 130 hosts between the two countries, with “thousands” of hopeful hosts waiting for approval around the world.
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Photo by EatWith