Omnivore - GrubWithUs uses food (and the internet) to connect people

The year-old website comes to Atlanta today

Image GrubWithUs, a website that aims to bring people together over a good meal, launches in Atlanta today. The website uses social media to connect people through food, but the rest of the friend-making is up to them - strangers eat a meal together that they planned online, not knowing the ins and outs of one another first, and then can either stay in touch or forget the meeting altogether. Basically, the site aims to get people back to getting to know each other the old-fashioned way, with a slight boost from the Internet first.

Here’s how it works. Users (called "grubbers") sign up and create a profile, which consists of a picture and a basic “about me” section. Then, they add their interests, which can include cats, micro beers, farmers markets, laughing, people (which hopefully you’re interested in if you’re using this site!)…the possibilities are endless. Then, they browse through meals in their area to find one they want to attend. The meals cost about $25 - $35 per person, and the site displays who else has already signed up. They go to the meal, meet new people, chat over a few courses, and hopefully stay in touch afterwards.

The site was created in August 2010 and currently operates in seven cities, including Boston, New York and Seattle, and is used by more than 20,000 people. The meals are supposed to be casual and low-stress - the website's meal etiquette section includes keeping topics like politics and religion to a minimum and keeping cell phones on silent. The people at Grubwithus say they've gotten stories of grubbers meeting up again and again, grubbers starting to date each other, and even two girls who went from eating together to going skydiving together.