Chicago-based social dining group GrubWithUs is launching in DC today, offering all-inclusive, family-style meals at local restaurants. The program, which was founded by a group of post-college friends who found themselves alone in a new city, aims to unite a town of transplants — or at least give them an excuse to try a new restaurant.
Development Director Sen Sugano took some time to answer Eater DC's questions via email about the new program:
Where did the idea for GrubWithUs originate?
Grubwith.us began in Chicago, where our founders found it difficult to meet new friends. They relocated from California to open a cream puff store and once they got out there, they realized their social network was very limited. They went to bars, but of course, it was hard to make friends there. Eventually, they came up with the idea of Grubwith.us. It's a comfortable, non-awkward way to meet new awesome people, while discovering new restaurants. In every culture, food is what brings people together and this is exactly what Grubwith.us does.
And what has the reception been like in other cities?
It's been very successful in every city we've launched in, but especially so in New York, where our launch meals sold out only within a few hours. Chicago and San Francisco have been steadily growing as well. In addition, we've received several requests from users throughout the country to expand to their cities. This includes Los Angeles, which we will launch at the end of April, following DC.
Why DC? What do you think makes us a good fit for a project like this?
We go to cities with the most demand and pre-sign ups. While we were launching New York, the hype quickly grew in DC and we knew this was going to be our next city. We're excited to be here because DC is unique and its residents are so great. It's a foodie city and people here welcome new innovative ideas, such as Grubwith.us.
What kinds of restaurants are you hoping to work with? Do you have a price range in mind?
We will be launching our first meal with Policy next Thursday, April 21st. In addition, we have partnered with Dukem, Mandu, Taj of India, Al Crostino and Cajun Experience to name a few. We like to offer a variety of cuisines for our users and host meals throughout the city. Our prices at the beginning will range from $20-$35 for a prix-fixed, three-course, family-style menu. Eventually, we will add additional price points that will depend on the restaurant.
How many people can attend a dinner on any given night?
Our meals range from 6-8 grubbers per meal and we host 1-3 meals per night, depending on demand. In Chicago we have a large user base, so on some nights of the week, we have up to three meals.
What's your vision for the future of GrubWithUs in DC?
We'll be implementing several special interest groups, including "Veggie Grubbers," which will host vegetarian meals throughout the city. We will also be offering users the opportunity to create their own groups, which we expect to be very popular in DC. In addition, we're looking to do several charity dinners, where people will bid for seats at a meal and all proceeds will be donated. Other ideas include: Happy Hour Meals, Weekend Brunches, and expanding to Bethesda and Arlington.
· GrubWithUs [Official Site]