When I lived in Denver, I met a group of people through a dinner club that I found on Craigslist. The idea was you would meet new people and try new restaurants…it was good for me at the time, when I was very alone in a strange city. The only problem with that dinner club was that you never quite knew what you were getting into, they were complete strangers, and sometimes the size of the crowd got way out of hand (one time there were over 40 of us that showed up at a restaurant).
Lately, a few friends began talking about a similar idea, but I think it was more about trying new restaurants with our current group of friends, more than meeting strangers. I thought a kind of compromise would work well – starting with a circle of friends, and going out like spokes of a wheel – getting different circles of friends together, so that you may meet someone new, but there’s still a connection there. Degrees of separation and all that.
The most important thing in doing something like this is that it has to be a firmly scheduled event – none of that “what works with your schedule?” and “I can’t make that, can we change the date?” So I decided on the Second Wednesday of the month. Wednesday should be less crowded in restaurants than a weekend night, and making it the second rather than the first of the month should get us away from any holiday conflicts.
The second most important thing is getting the information out to people in a safe, easy way. Emails and evites would be a little complicated – it would take a lot of coordination, and then you’re sending emails to people you don’t know, etc, etc… A website would be a great way, people can check it at their leisure, but then what’s to prevent a psycho stranger from showing up at dinner, too? (A dinner club stalker? Improbable, but not impossible.)
Then I remembered that on Blogger you have the ability to host an “invite only” blog, so that only the people you invite can see it. I started there, set up a blog, but then I realized there were a couple of issues there. Number one, it’s limited to 100 email addresses (I know, I have high hopes thinking this could ever get up to 100 people), and number two, people would have to register, and some people don’t want to do that. Same thing with setting up a group on Facebook.
But WordPress has the ability to password protect posts. So the blog can be checked by anyone, but people would need a password to view the restaurant of the month. Getting the password out wouldn’t be hard to do, and you don’t need to register to post a comment. So, I think I found the solution.
If you’re a friend in the Charlotte area, let me know if you’re interested in joining us sometime. You can find the new blog here: www.charlottedinnerclub.wordpress.com