Ever had the urge to go out to dinner at a restaurant but couldn’t find anyone to dine with? Social dining startup Grubwithus might just have an app for you. Over the weekend it launched GrubTonight, an iPhone app that allows strangers in the same city to meet up for impromptu meals with just a few hours notice. Think of it as a tweetup with a set menu.
If you’re not familiar, Grubwithus is Los Angeles-based startup that specializes in organizing group meals for people with similar interests. Users sign up for a Grubwithus account, and then start signing up for dinners, organized weeks in advance around themes such as the love of sushi or a fascination with Ron Paul. Grubwithus pre-arranges set meals with partner restaurants, and diners prepay their bills before attending. Once there everyone only needs to cover their drink tabs.
GrubTonight works in a similar way, though much accelerated. The iPhone-only app — Grubwithus probably isn’t hosting any Android-lover meals just yet — alerts members to dinners being held that night along with their menus and locations. Unlike the regular Grubwithus dinners, there’s no theme, just social interaction. Diners again prepay and they receive a confirmation an hour before the meal is held. At launch, GrubTonight is only offering up meals in the LA area, but the company said it would expand to more cities in the coming months.
Grubwithus said that the app is focused on immediacy, making it ideal for business travelers, tourists looking to meet each other or the locals or as a means for the newly relocated to meet the community. If a group of diners hit it off they can meet for future meals using the social tools in the larger Grubwithus network.
Grubwithus is one of many startups exploring the idea of a “real-life” social network built around the communal table, but it’s developed more momentum than most. A Y Combinator alum, Grubwithus raised $1.6 million in seed funding from Ashton Kutcher, Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Aviv Nevo, and other angel investors.
Last year, it announced a $5 million Series A round led by LA VC GRP Partners. In February it used some of those funds to buy up Canadian “supper club” startup The Social Feed, allowing it to expand internationally. In addition to LA, Grubwithus is now organizing meals in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and San Jose, Toronto and Washington, D.C.
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