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Why No Dining App Is the 'Airbnb of Food' (Yet)

Apps promoting social dining experiences beyond restaurants seem ripe for the “sharing economy.” So why aren’t they dominating the market?

EatWith / Facebook

The dinner was a Japanese-inspired six-course meal made by a chef in Brooklyn. The sample menu included dishes like “steamed silken tofu with edamame sauce” and “stuffed potato ball in Dashi soup” and a roasted green tea crème brûlée for dessert. For a night out in New York City, the $57 price tag was a steal. I signed up for one of the limited spots and received an email telling me the full address of the dinner, and a note –€” in all caps — that shoes were not allowed inside. But then, the morning of the dinner, the event was canceled by the chef. She wrote that it was her “sincere regret” to cancel because she hadn’t reached the minimum number of reservations needed to host the meal.

EatWith, the service I used to schedule this meal, is just one in a sea of others just like it. They allow chefs to promote private dinners, usually of six or more guests, and — if all goes well — make more money than they might in a restaurant kitchen.

But here’s the issue facing apps and services like EatWith: Not only do they need an army of wannabe chefs offering to sell their services and dinner tables; they need people to attend the meals, too.

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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.