Peer production enters the kitchen
Feastly follows a pretty typical peer-to-peer model: People who are passionate cooks — whether they be professional, semi-professional, or amateur chefs — can list food that they plan to cook and invite eaters to buy a seat at their table during the meal. The goal is to lower the barrier of entry for cooks to enter the marketplace while also making dining more social.
Launched in private beta in January, the platform has seen three-quarters of all cooks host multiple meals. The cost of meals has ranged from free to $150, but the average price tends to be about $35, according to co-founder Noah Karesh. Some chefs have already made thousands of dollars using the platform, even in private beta mode.
Like hotels, restaurants in many cities are subject to exorbitant taxes — in Washington, restaurant meals are taxed at 10 percent — so it’s only a matter of time before local tax authorities turn their attention to figuring out how to extract lucre from Feastly. D.C.’s food truck wars of the last five years were mostly about restaurateurs objecting to competition, but they did have legitimate complaints about taxes.
Additionally, since Feastly’s meals are served in private homes, health inspectors will likely be champing at the bit to get a piece of the action. (And much like with Airbnb in San Francisco, these objections won’t be to the act in question — having guests into your home for a meal — but to the fact that it has been sullied by commerce).
And that’s to say nothing of the food police and sundry other noodgers who are increasingly worming their way into our private culinary decisions.
I wish Feastly nothing but the best. It’s an interesting model and a great example of how the peer production economy is evolving and growing.
But I’m not sure it can survive the progressive regulatory state.