While there seems to be an app for most things these days, not everyone is finding who or what they want online. Sydneysider Ben Stokes wasn’t, so decided to do something about it.
“I moved back from living in the US and was finding my social circle restricted, with friends now married and having kids,” he says. “Their priorities had changed, but I still wanted to go out and socialise. I tried out dating apps, trying to make new friends. But nothing was very organised and there was no guarantee people would show up.”
Stokes’s answer was the website SocialTable, a social dining experience for people who want to meet others like them – whether that’s to make new friends, find dinner companions when you’re in town for a holiday or business, connect as a newcomer to Sydney, or nail down that special someone Tinder’s been lacking.
The premise of SocialTable is simple: SocialTable books a restaurant for dinner and then offers 10 spots. Punters pay for a single seat and, over share-style food and drinks, get to know each other. “Instead of food being brought to you, we’re bringing people to the food,” he says.
For Stokes, it’s been an effective way for him to meet compatible people. “I’ve met so many people outside of my own social circle. As people with a similar outlook often select the same restaurants or events to go to, so you end up meeting people you would want to meet anyway.”
Upcoming events are listed on the SocialTable website, and include things such as singles nights, networking dinners, cooking classes, girls-only outings, whisky-appreciation events, LGBTI-friendly catch ups and even straightforward after-work drinks.
The chosen venues aren’t crappy, either. Frenchies, Acre Eatery, Manly Wine and Messina Creative Department are all on the list – and there’s no bill splitting as dinner and a welcome drink are included in the cost of the ticket.
At the end of the night you can pass on your contact details if you want to pursue a relationship, or not. “There’s lots of new friendships,” says Stokes. “One whole table group catches up regularly for brunch and coffees … On average 95 per cent of participants pass on their contact information and organise additional dinners.”