In a penthouse apartment in Manhattan’s Chinatown on a recent Monday night, Lisa Larsson chopped shiitake mushrooms and looked rather relaxed for someone about to host a 14-person dinner.
She had arranged the party through the app AirDine, which lets users pay to eat at strangers’ houses, rating the experience afterward. The app started in Sweden last year, and expanded to the United States and elsewhere in March. Ms. Larsson, 26, a painter originally from Sweden, was hosting the first party in the United States.
The guests — half friends and half strangers — arrived. Mostly millennials, they displayed a dinner-party-appropriate gravitas: pocket squares, bottles of wine for Ms. Larsson. There was only a whiff of cynicism when Noor Shams, who works in microfinance , said the doorman downstairs did not recognize Ms. Larsson’s name and “for a second, I was, like, this is a scam!”
It was not a scam — but whether AirDine and a wave of similar apps can get consumers to embrace them is a question. While other companies have conquered car rides (Uber), bedroom rentals (Airbnb) and errand running (TaskRabbit), AirDine and services like EatWith and Feastly are trying to master shared dining. Yet social dining has […]