After a meal at Undergrind in Beverlywood, Daniel Chae (26), a Los Angeles resident, remembers thinking to himself, "there has to be more than just taking pictures and eating food at great restaurants". Once this idea got started, Chae had to move on this hunch. He recalls, "I posed the simple question [to my friends], 'what do you want in a local restaurant experience?'. Almost every single person said something along the lines of hearing the story behind the owner, restaurant, and specialty dish. From there I identified the most bare bones vehicle that could give people the story they wanted to hear and that turned into LA Meet & Eat!"
Since having this idea in early May of this year, Chae has already run several successful Meet & Eats, with his first one on June 5th.
True to his vision, LA Meet & Eat aims to create a memorable, intimate social dining experience for the diner and business owner alike. Chae partners with business owners to put together a small event with no more than 10 to 15 patrons in attendance. Each diner pays a small flat fee to attend, usually around $10 - $15 to cover costs and to support the business.
The small group makes it easy for attendees to talk to and get to the know the owner and business more intimately. The owner, in exchange gets to share the stories behind the restaurant and the food served to a rapt audience. When asked what business owners think of these events, Chae replied, "every single business owner has been really pleased with their respective Meet & Eat. Each owner gave us the green light to run more Meet & Eats together!"
Chae currently runs about two to three Meet & Eat events for different businesses every weekend. "In doing this, we hope to offer an unforgettable, connective, and intimate social experience for people who attend. On the flip side we also hope to bring new and returning customers to restaurants whether that be the attendees themselves or anyone who comes by way of Meet & Eat."
This isn't an exclusive club -- anyone can attend a Meet & Eat by signing up for them on their site or even by DM on Instagram. "Come with an expectation that you'll eat amazing food and hear a meaningful origin story from the owner," Chae promises. "You can also expect to find like-minded and kind-hearted folks that you'll be able to find a genuine connection with."
The goal of LA Meet & Eat is to help restaurants gain consistent, loyal patrons and receive the recognition they deserve. "The core mission of LA Meet & Eat is to elevate local restaurants," Chae says. "I really want restaurants to know we're here to see them thrive and grow. And for attendees, I want LA Meet & Eat to be a space to experience something incredible and meaningful."
Chae has big plans for LA Meet & Eat. "In the future I could see LA Meet & Eat being the go-to place to get more connected to a city and specific neighborhood, kind of like what workplaces, religious institutions, and workout classes seem to do for people. I'd love to expand to other urban environments regionally, nationally, and internationally!"