Since the beginning of time, people have come together at the end of each day to eat, unwind and converse around a communal table. But as part of the era of urbanization, Ikea apartments, and shrinking spaces, the majority of city dwellers no longer have the space in their living quarters for a table that can bring families, friends, and communities together.
With the advent of the sharing economy and the coliving movement, however, we are seeing a drive to bring people back together in places and spaces around the city. The communal table represents a place to gather, to share, to hear each others’ stories. It’s wired into our psyching to hunt and to gather, as a result we see the seeds of a movement to bring back the space to gather and build this way of living into our daily rituals.
One such company tapping into this is EatWith.
EatWith was started in the US in 2012 by Guy Michlin and Shemer Schwarz and was originally branded as ‘the Airbnb for home-cooked meals.’ The platform functions as a marketplace that connects guests looking for a communal meal with hosts who can provide the space and food. The company pre-vets all the hosts to make sure they are both good cooks and social hosts, as EatWith is as much about the social experience as it is the food. The company raised $8 million in 2014 from Greylock partners and recently raised an undisclosed round from Trip Advisor in November 2016. EatWith offers a social dining experience with more than 650 hosts in 200 cities in 50 countries.
“EatWith is a community marketplace offering authentic dining experiences in people’s homes around the world. Through EatWith guests can connect with amazing hosts, share stories and unforgettable experiences, and enjoy delicious homemade cuisine.”
Multiple studies show the positive effects in children from eating together, but for the population as a whole, the health benefits arise from simply being together:
“The other reason is that eating alone can be alienating. The dinner table can act as a unifier, a place of community. Sharing a meal is an excuse to catch up and talk, one of the few times where people are happy to put aside their work and take time out of their day.” The Importance of Eating Together
In coliving, a movement that is exploding globally in the young generation, members come together and dine daily in some cases. The theory behind coliving is that we can tap into a more energizing and fulfilling life experience when we live with others who are like-minded and have similar ambitions, regardless of their actual profession or upbringing. Eating together plays a huge factor in building community and getting to know others in shared spaces:
“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” The Most Important Factor for Coliving
Coliving incorporates the communal table into its core, whereas the sharing economy offers up the communal table as an on-demand, shared experience. Both function to bring old and young, locals and expats, men and women, together around big, beautiful tables to gather and share experiences. It’s part of a movement to reinvigorate daily rituals, such as eating together, into our crazy city lives.