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FAQs - The Weekly Dinner

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The Organizer C.
weeklydinner
Group Organizer
Washington, DC
Post #: 18
The Organizer C.
weeklydinner
Group Organizer
Washington, DC
Post #: 10
.
General Questions


What is The Weekly Dinner?

We're a group of social foodies who go out to random area restaurants at least one night per week. You can find a longer description on the About­ page.

It this a good way to meet social people and get to know DC's restaurant scene?

Absolutely!

Can I recommend a place to try?

Please do. We encourage members to become more involved [identify potential event locales, lead 1-off dining events, etc.]

Visit our We're Taking Suggestions discussion thread [we're compiling a massive list of member-specific suggestions], add your suggestions there.

How many people usually come to these dinners?

We get about 20 to 40 people. It just depends on the week (and what the restaurant can handle).

Is it mostly regulars? Will I be "the new guy" or one of many newcomers?

Usually 1/4 to 1/3 of the group each week are 1st-timers. So you won't be alone there.

In terms of "regulars," most repeat attendees come anywhere from 2x/month to 1x/3 months. But "regulars" as a term is loose here. Anyone who's attended more than a few events with us that knows how we work [billing, seating, etc] could be considered a regular, even if they haven't attended in quite some time.

How long does it take when you have that big of a group?

Best to assume dining events take about 3 hours comfortably.

You can generally eat and duck out in about 2.5 - 3 hours if you need to get somewhere.

But ... remember that COMMON SENSE APPLIES HERE. If a dining event has a very large group, we're placing significant pressure on the kitchen for 20 - 30 entrees to be delivered at the same time. It's far different than having a dinner for 4 or 6.

Dinners will last at least 2.5 hours from our experience. Plus, it's "social dining", our events aren't meant for "eat & duck out", time will fly socializing with other attendees during the meal.

So please ... RSVP only if you're OK with spending that much time.

How would you describe the membership demographics? What are the people like?

We really get a wide variety of people in our group, especially as we've grown to over 2,000 members. Most people are in their late 20s - late 30s, but we definitely have many members in their early/mid 20s and 40s in our group. (some probably are in their 50s, but we don't keep track of that). As for gender breakdown, it luckily tends to be about even in terms of men and women. You'll really see good cross-section of the DC Metro population over time at our events.

The only common threads we've been able to find so far are that everybody is very social and love to eat!

Does the group really have hundreds of active members?

It's hard to give a static number as the group is in a constant state of growth. But currently, there seems to be well over 700 active members. As this is DC, many of us are busy professionals who have to juggle their free time. So there are a lot of members that drop off the radar for a month or two due to their schedules and then resurface. But in terms of attendance, we generally get about 25, give or take 10, each week.

Is this a singles group?

No. smile

There have definitely been a number of single members who have found dates here [and at very unofficial count at least 2 couples who met at dinner events have since married, and several more in long-term relationships], but we also have many coupled and/or married members. Everyone in the group is looking to meet new people (it's why we're here), but it's not necessarily about meeting that special someone. Some folks come just for the food and conversations [and to explore the DC area restaurants], while others come for possible business networking or a chance to make new friends to do things outside our group events.

Most importantly, we want to ensure folks are feeling comfortable at our group dining events. Players: there are a ton of other Meetup groups that are MUCH better-suited for those activities in the DC-Metro area lol.

Members can always contact the Orgs by e-mail if you have any additional questions about this.

How did the group get started?

The founder of this group, Erik, was just the man in the know who organized get-togethers for friends. As time went by, the group of friends started getting larger and larger and inevitably, a name or two would be forgotten on an email list. After a few "why didn't you invite me?" fiascos, Erik moved the management of the group to Meetup where he posted event details for all his friends to see.

In early 2005, the group was opened to the public as Erik's own personal social experiment. The group began to boom & successfully continued on its way. Erik eventually finished his degree and moved to California, the group not only continued but has increased doubled and tripled many times over. There seems to be a lot of social food lovers in the area!

How do the organizers pick restaurants?

Well, we try to vary up the restaurant selections as much as we can (in terms of atmosphere, price, cuisine, neighborhood, ext.) so you can experience it all and so we are sure to, at least sometimes, have what you're looking for.

After that, it's a variety of factors: member suggestions, reviews [media/personal/etc], metro-friendly, personal experience, etc.

How many The Weekly Dinner chapters are there?

There are three. A former DC regular, Jenn, has opened The Weekly Dinner Minneapolis Chapter. And our original founder, Erik, has opened a chapter in San Fransisco.

What do I do if I have a question I don't see answered here?

Please contact the Orgs by e-mail [we aren't actively reviewing the message board for prompt replies]; all the Orgs receive the e-mail at the same time, ensuring someone will be able to respond in quick fashion.


The Organizer C.
weeklydinner
Group Organizer
Washington, DC
Post #: 11
.
RSVPing to an Event


Ok, I'm game. How do I sign-up for an upcoming event?

Each event has its own dedicated Event page. From those Event pages, we'll post the event details [description, how many RSVP slots are available, location, directions, etc].

From the Event page, simply RSVP "YES" if openings are still available. Automated [and sometimes Organizer] e-mail reminders will be sent to those YES RSVPs.

Is it important to RSVP?

YES, in fact it's required Many restaurants have seating capacities and reservations are made for a specific number of people. The RSVP system allows the organizer to manage the number of attendees.

» It's just as important to change your RSVP if you cannot make it so that other interested members have an opportunity to attend the event [see our No-Show Policy].

Can I Choose "Maybe" to an Event??

Our group doesn't permit "Maybe" RSVPs due to the sheer size of our group and in consideration to those on waitlists.

Organizers reserve the right to change RSVPs based on member's comments and level of commitment.

I noticed that I can't RSVP for upcoming Events. When do RSVPs open?

We try to have RSVPs open for next Friday's event about 1 week prior. [Friday afternoon - Sunday morning, each Organizer is responsible for opening their own events].

An e-mail will be sent to all members once RSVPs have opened.

For our occasional non-Friday events [include events like Happy Hours, Outdoor Festivals [really anything that's not the main Friday night dinners] these are typically less-structured so timing is more variable. Again, we'll post an e-mail out to the membership whenever RSVPs open for an event [so even if a spontaneous event becomes available, you'll know about it].

May I bring Guests with me to the Event?

Typically not. With over 2,000 members and limited seating per event, we want members to fill those seats [besides, membership is free ... have your friends or significant other sign-up!]. Also, from experience Guests are more prone to No-Showing than members. [i.e. they don't demonstrate the same consideration to absolutely attend an event]

So, by default Dinner Events are Members-Only.

Some events may allow for Guests [typically our "1-off" events like happy hours, outdoor festivals, etc.]. You'll know if the event allows Guests by looking for a "Bring a Guest" option when you actually attempt to RSVP. If an event does allow a Guest, there's probably a set-limit on how many [it's typically a maximum of one].

And for those that think they're a special exception to this rule ... you're not wink. Bringing an univited guest [even if you're on the RSVP list yourself], is considered Crashing an event.

I see a "Closed to New RSVPs" message on the Event page. What does that mean?

It's meant to say that No-One can currently RSVP for the event [new or regular/old-time members].

As our group continues to grow, we wanted to create an orderly method to setup Events and give everyone a equal chance to RSVP for an event. So we standardized when we initially open RSVPs for an event. [typically 1 week prior to the Event, see above question].

» You may also see that message once the Event RSVPs open & all initial slots are filled.

Once an Event's slots initially fill-up, each Organizer for their particular events can choose to "Lock any New YES RSVPs" and then poll Waitlisters [see next question below] if they want the next open slot once available.

Those that reply back to us & agree to definitely attend are pulled to the YES list. We don't always lock RSVPs once an event is initially opened [that's at the discretion of the Organizer leading that event, it's time-intensive to manage the waitlist & frankly we have lives too :D]. But many of us see the value of it as well.

In essence, the waitlisters as generally getting "dibs" on any new slots that open [and the earlier the better for your chances]. So, it pays for all members to waitlist along with fellow members. [or wait until the day of the event to grab a late-opening slot]

What if an upcoming event is filled-up already & I'm still interested in going? Can I be placed on a Waitlist of sorts?

Yes! Meetup finally added Waitlist capability on the website. You'll see the option to Waitlist if the event's full.

We'll look for RSVP openings as folks change their mind & releases a slot. If one comes available, the Organizer will contact those on Waitlist to inform them of new openings.

And don't fret if you see a long waitlist. Here's why:
  • As much as 40% [yup, that much] of the initial YES list will change their mind & release their slot before our RSVP cutoff date.
  • Some waitlisters find alternate plans as the week progresses
  • Other waitlisters don't take time to respond back when we poll them for interest [their loss, your gain!]

» Example: We've gone as far as 20-deep in the Waitlist just to pull 2 folks for open slots.

Just by officially waitlisting & responding back to Organizer inquiries, you'll likely be able to attend. So, if you "think" that the waitlist is futile, you just might be surprised [just respond back in a timely fashion when we try to contact you] biggrin

If the event looks to be completely filled all-week, you still may yet get in

Our RSVP Cutoff is typically Noon the day of the event, so there's always last-minute movement of slots. Check the site several times that day & look for an unexpected opening [we sometimes see a last-minute opening into the late afternoon of event day].

Our members do a very good job of respecting the RSVP process we have, & allow others to take their slot once they remove themselves from an event [the No-Show / Late Cancel Rules have helped]

So, if you have an unexpected opening in your plans, it pays to check the site!

Can I Assign My "YES" RSVP to Another Member? [i.e. I can't make the event, but I want to hook someone else up myself]

NO, members cannot choose to assign their RSVPs to another member [it's not yours to bequeath like an heirloom biggrin].

This disrupts and undermines our Waitlist process. We track waitlisters for an event and will select which member will get your opening slot. Please do not do this wink

What happens if I "No-Show" OR "Late-Cancel" to an event that I originally RSVP'd YES to? Are there consequences?

YES! See below

_
The Organizer C.
weeklydinner
Group Organizer
Washington, DC
Post #: 12
.
"No-Show / Late Cancel" Policy


Pronunciation: 'nO shO

Function: bad action


  • Not showing up to an event that you RSVP'd "YES" for.
  • Guests (+1) who don't show.
  • Cancellations generally 24 hours prior to the event,
    --> Organizers will specify the actual deadline at the top of the Event Description [hint: it's not always the same deadline, so READ CAREFULLY].
  • Cancellations after the designated cancel time of a non-Friday event. [as defined in the Event Description]



Explanation

Our group is large. Very large! That is news for celebration! Our success as a group is something to be proud of because it is the member base that makes or breaks a group and you have definitely made our group something to talk about.

However, with any success comes challenges. No-Shows (and late cancellations) to events have become ours. No shows have impact on everyone, from the organizer to the person on the waitlist to the venue itself.

As we hold 4 - 6 events per month with about 25 seats per event, the average number of seats per month is 175. With over 2,000 members, there are very few seats for a group this big. Each time someone signs up for an event and then doesn't show, it deprives another member a slot. Even a cancellation after Noon the day of the event makes it difficult for other members as it allows them very little time for planning.

In addition, No-Shows:

  • impact the Restaurant as they affect their Staffing/Resource planning for the night, and can hurt their Revenue since they blocked out an assumed # of seats [& space in the restaurant] for our Event that may deny Walk-In patrons from eating there at the same time as us.
  • impact the Organizer as they have to explain to the venue why the # of seats reserved were not filled.
  • ultimately, impact the Entire Group because the restaurant community is a close-knit one. Not filling reservations will give us a bad reputation thus making it more and more difficult to make large capacity reservations in the future. [<-- this in particular was a huge consideration]

We understand life can be filled with unexpected events and that these events can negatively affect your attendance. However, these should be extremely rare. It takes very little time and effort to update your RSVP.

Accordingly, we had little choice in instituting a No-Show Policy:

What's Considered a No-Show: 4 Classifications

  • Not showing up to an Event that you RSVP'd "YES" for.
  • Guests (+1, +2, etc.) who don't show. [you ARE accountable for any Guests, if applicable to the event]
  • Cancellations generally 24 hours prior to the event,
    --> Organizers will specify the actual deadline at the top of the Event Description [hint: it's not always the same deadline, so READ CAREFULLY].
  • Cancellations after the designated cancel time of a non-Friday event.
--> [#3 & #4 are known as a "Late Cancel"]

What Happens if a Member No-Shows or Late Cancels

  • No-Show / Late Cancel activity will be posted to a member's profile as their Member Title. It will reflect the date the No-Show / Late Cancel occurred.
  • If a member is in good standing for a 3-month period: the No-Show / Late Cancel title can be removed
  • If a member No-Shows or Late Cancels a 2nd time within a 3-month period: the member will be removed from the group.

Note: Certain events may be exempt from the No-Show / Late Cancel policy. These events will ALWAYS have the "Maybe" RSVP option available. Generally, these are events, like happy hours, where the member's attendance and arrival time do not inconvenience the organizer, other members or the venue.



As a result of this policy [implemented in 2006], we've seen tremendous impacts to our group. Events are regularly 100% filled & attended, more members are able to attend events & not be blocked due to someone taking an event slot & not showing up [even more important given the growth of our membership, and we have a great reputation with the DC restaurant community [good word-of-mouth about our group has led to easier ability to negotiate events].

We'd like to thank everyone for respecting the need for this Policy, and for doing a fantastic job with showing consideration to your fellow members by keeping your RSVPs up-to-date. It's helped our group to flourish and allows a greater amount of members to attend events.


The Organizer Crew




The Organizer C.
weeklydinner
Group Organizer
Washington, DC
Post #: 22
.
Attending Events


So ... it's the day of the event. How/where do I meet up with everyone at the restaurant

Each event is coordinated by a specific Organizer, or a "Guest Organizer" [usually a member who's leading a special off-Friday event]. The reservation will be under that person's name. Plus, we're usually the largest reservation at the pre-defined timeframe [20+ people, as defined in the event RSVP totals] so it's easy to figure out. Members that come in early will often meetup at the restaurant's bar [if applicable] for drinks/mingle, or wait to be seated.

BTW ... you did add your picture to your Meetup profile, right? Remember, we're looking for YOU as much as you're looking for us wink


Does the group have any "twists" all it's own?

You bet it does! We like to switch it up, and we really do mean switch.

Periodically throughout the meal, the organizers (or sometimes other regulars) may tap people to get up, bring your food, and switch with somebody sitting somewhere else. This way, you get the opportunity to meet more people & significant conversations by the end of your first event.

Do you do anything after the dinner is done ... do people just go home after dinner?

We leave that to choice, no pressure. We don't plan it in advance; we just figure it out when it comes time for the bill.

We'd say about 1/3 to 1/2 of the group will float to a nearby bar/lounge for after-dinner drinks & more direct "get-to-know".

Billing: How's that handled?

The Event Organizer will coordinate the billing.

When the event is "open menu" / "a la carte" [which is most of our events], the Organizer will manage the process to ensure everyone pays their specific amounts. If any food / wine is shared [i.e. split] among several members, those folks should divide it evenly on their own bills.

Important considerations:
  • Typically the check will be a SINGLE GROUP bill [not individual]. These are typically the *restaurant's required rules* in order for us to have an extreme large party reservation.
  • Gratuity [i.e Tip] + Tax. Since we're dining in a large group, restaurants will assign an automatic, fixed "large group gratuity" into the final bill.



» FOR ALL DINNER EVENTS, we've established a mandated, combination 30% Tip/Tax on top of your own meal costs.

==> To attend an event, each member agrees to honor this 30% tax/tip assumption.

[i.e. there's no negotiation on this, any differences with your own personal gratuity policy are overruled by this]




The billing process will have the check passed around to each person. Everyone will then tally their individual Total Cost [food, beverages, alcohol if consumed, and then apply the 30% tax/tip on top for their Total Cost]. Payment for that Total Cost should goto the Organizer [cash/credit card].

The event's Organizer will then tally ALL CASH + ALL CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS so that it definitely equals the Final Bill total [which will already have their fixed large-party gratuity factored]

Cash or Credit Cards: How Do I Pay?

Cash is ALWAYS preferred and recommended for payment, although credit cards can be selectively taken. [logistical nightmare for a restaurant to handle 20+ credit cards, as some restaurants' credit card systems have a limitation on the # of cards accepted for payment].

==> Best to have sufficient amount of cash if at all possible.

Those with credit cards: We'll provide small yellow "stickies" to you. Tally your Total Amount Due INCLUDING the 30% TAX / TIP & write that Total amount on the sticky along write the last name [must match what's on your credit card]. Attach the sticky to your card & pass back to the Organizer so they can tally your payment to ensure the Total Bill [the entire group's food, beverages, tax and fixed large-party gratuity] is covered.

Note: If using a credit card, please:
  • Do not breakup your TIP outside of your total "To-Charge". Lessons learned. As mentioned above, the included TIP+TAX is already factored on the overall group bill and the Organizer needs to account for that tip in your credit card payment.
  • Be sure to cross-out the "Tip" section of the credit card bill and simply place the same total amount that you calculated before. [remember you included tip before]

It really does work out a large majority of the time, but from experience folks may have a difference interpretation / expectation on how or what to pay. So, we've clarified it.


The Organizer C.
weeklydinner
Group Organizer
Washington, DC
Post #: 23

And now ... the boring stuff:



Group Rules & Guidelines


1. No solicitations or advertising are allowed to be posted on the website without the prior approval of the Organizers.


This includes in:

  • your profiles or profile pictures (especially this, no website/email URLs, no group/business names, etc.)
  • the message forums
  • event threads

If you're unsure if your post constitutes solicitation/advertising, please contact the Orgs before posting.

1a. This rule applies as well on soliciting alternate, non-approved events publicly in the message board OR as a RSVP comment on an already-planned/listed event page (the latter is particularly a sore spot with the Orgs).

==> Please DO NOT DO THIS!


If you have a suggestion for alternate events/suggestions in general, please e-mail the Organizers directly using the Contact Me link on the left-side column of the website.

We welcome suggestions by our members, & are happy to consider them as we're evolving as an organization.



2. Privacy:

We strongly suggest that you NOT post any personal information [i.e. your mailing / e-mail addresses or phone number] in the Discussions. Everyone can contact each other via the e-mail system Meetup has available once you're logged-on (i.e. click on the "email me" link next to a member's name to send them an e-mail), so personal details posted on a public website aren't recommended.

In today's world of spamming, telephone solicitations, & identity theft ... protect yourself.



3. Topics Pertaining to Non-Weekly Dinner Group or General Event Questions / Comments:

The discussion forum is meant as a means to answer questions about general Group-specific questions.

==> Specific questions about an upcoming event should be directed to the Organizer leading that particular event via e-mail (see the event page for whom is leading the event, often will also be the 1st person who RSVP'd to the event).

Things that may apply are: cost of the event, directions, waitlist, etc. Click on the letter icon next to that member's name, be sure to provide your 1st name when sending e-mail [not all member names contain real 1st names, or names for that matter].

Don't forget to review these FAQs fully, many of your questions likely are addressed already.



4. Respect Consolidated forum threads:

Occasionally, we may group similar-themed posts under a single thread [allowing for easier mgmt. of the board & for both members & Organizers to easily find a topic of interest]. We'll be sure to mention in the original post that we're asking members to respect our wish to have a unified location for certain topics.

Currently, our Dining Suggestions & Music Event Suggestions threads are examples of consolidated threads.




5. Cleanup of Message Board & RSVP Comments:

We have the right, but not the obligation, to remove without notice any Message Board posts or Event RSVP comments that violate these Guidelines in our judgment, are derogatory or negative in nature, aren't applicable to the Weekly Dinner group, or diminish the value of the Discussions.




6. Use of Content:

No Content (that includes photos and all other images) from our website may be used, reproduced, transmitted, distributed or otherwise exploited in any way other than as part of the Weekly Dinner - DC site.


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