All over our country and especially in the Midwest, supper clubs are a thing—a longstanding social tradition of people gathering at someone’s home, bringing a dish, inviting friends, and doing it on the reg. Some have themes, some don’t—but the idea is essentially to host a regular roving dinner party that brings us together over good food, drink and conversation.
As the number of Americans dining out overtook eating in 2015 [cite], the restaurant is often now the site of how we get together. So, we thought: what better way to celebrate local dining communities and support the restaurants who are their fabric than hosting a series of supper clubs ourselves? We’re in the business of connecting restaurants to diners, so these bespoke, special events felt like the perfect way to bring a unique experience to each neighborhood, from New York to San Francisco.
On November 5, in New York City’s West Village neighborhood, we hosted our first ever OpenTable Supper Club in collaboration with Happy Cooking Hospitality, at Gabe Stulman’s restaurant, Fedora. Nestled into the ground level of a brownstone, Fedora is a jewel box of a restaurant, with leather tufted banquets, an original bar, and pop photography that makes the whole place feel like you’re living room (or at least a super stylish one.)
Owner Gabe Stulman is a fixture of the city’s restaurant scene. Born and raised in Fairfax Virginia in a Moroccan Jewish family, Stulman made his way to the University of Wisconsin at Madison where he, like so many of us, worked in restaurants to put himself through school. In doing so, he discovered he loved this business and made his way to NY to pursue a life in food.
Working as a bartender in his early days in the city, Stulman used to pull together groups of friends for, what he dubbed his “Blue Blood” dinner parties—a reference to the fact that they intended to eat like kings and queens—and whether it was his rule that each guest bring a friend he didn’t know, or that people shuffle seats between courses, the spirit of his restaurant group was born. Now the owner of five of the neighborhood (and city’s) most beloved restaurants, he’s still all about great friends, breaking bread, meeting someone new, and having the best time.
Over three courses that included an oyster with caviar to start, the most delicate ceviche, luscious short rib, and an addictive sugar pie, locals and influencers alike joined us for a meal paired with wines chosen specifically for the occasion. Served family-style, the food inspired the conversation, but new connections were formed as people met one another, toasted the occasion, and learned the back story of Fedora (fun fact: the building was in one family since it was built in 1917, and was only recently sold to Stulman’s team who named their restaurant after the grandmother who had run it for years.)
In two separate seatings (5:45 and 8:30), diners bought tickets through the OpenTable experience and enjoyed an insider’s experience of what it might be like if a restaurant opened its doors to only friends on a rainy night for a delicious, out-of-the-ordinary experience. And it is that feeling of being welcomed and invited in that is the ultimate spirit of hospitality.
Photo: Ayano Hisa
Design: Elizabeth Freeman