French Restaurateurs Fight Meal-Sharing Websites

Restaurant owners say meal-sharing sites are illegal

Wikimedia/Lionel Allorge

Some French restaurateurs are protesting meal-sharing services that allow home cooks to meet up with tourists seeking dinner.

Websites that pair up home cooks with visitors looking for a dining experience are an increasingly popular way for people to find a meal. They’re especially popular with tourists looking for an out-of-the-ordinary experience, and that’s not sitting well with some of France’s chefs and restaurateurs.

"They don't respect any rules in terms of hygiene, food health, licences — you need a licence to distribute alcoholic drinks — the origin of products, allergies... Everything that is imposed on us today,” said Didier Chenet, the head of restaurateurs' union Synhorcat, to The Local.

Meal-sharing sites allow hosts to find prospective guests to invite into their homes for dinner. Because those guests pay for the meals, Chenet says the hosts are actually operating “illegal restaurants.” He says the number of hosts using meal-sharing sites is increasing, and that they could pose an economic threat to France’s chefs and restaurateurs.

Camille Rumani, co-founder of the meal-sharing site VizEat, denies that meal-sharing is a threat to restaurateurs.

"Our hosts are amateurs who have guests occasionally, on average once a month in big cities,” she said. “It's not additional revenue of any significance for them, their aim is to showcase their culture, to share with people who come from all over the world. When travellers come to France for one or two weeks, they will do the VizEat experience once... It's more of a fun activity than a catering activity."

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