TwentyTables believes that giving back should be just as easy and routine as buying a meal. So that’s exactly what they built.
Founded in March 2017, TwentyTables is a fixed cost, food marketplace platform that lets hungry users purchase lunches for $6 and dinners for $12. Patrons can choose from more than 50 local D.C. restaurants and food trucks through the app. So far, the platform has partnered with restaurants like District Barbecue, Brookland Pint and Nino’s Bakery.
“By being a fixed cost meal platform, the cost is predictable for everyone involved,” said TwentyTables Founders Alex Cohen. “Restaurants know exactly how much they’re getting paid and consumers know exactly how much they’re spending.”
Here’s the catch — they don’t deliver. Customers have to pick up their food or dine in after purchasing through the app. Cohen said that companies like Seamless and UberEats drive up the costs of food, which conflicts with TwentyTables’ model.
“Some people can afford a $17 sandwich when it really costs $10, but most folks can’t,” said Cohen.
For every 20 meals purchased through TwentyTables, five meals are donated to local D.C. food banks — Capital Area Food Bank, D.C. Central Kitchen and Martha Tables. TwentyTables’ ticket-based system also allows users to donate meals to other users. Each ticket costs $6 — one ticket accounts for a lunch purchase and two tickets equal a dinner purchase.
According to a report by Capital Area Food Bank, at least 14 percent of D.C. residents are food insecure. TwentyTables makes quarterly donations to the food banks and the company’s team members also volunteer with the organizations.
“We wanted these three organizations not only because they’re the most reputable in D.C., but because they each sit at levels of the giving hierarchy,” Cohen said.
Capital Area Food Bank handles a large volume of food and serves as a distributor to smaller food banks in D.C. like D.C. Central Kitchen. Martha’s Kitchen and D.C. Kitchen prepare food and serve it to the needy.
The TwentyTables app ranks users by the amount they’ve helped donate to the food banks.
“We show individual consumers how many meals they’ve helped us contribute,” said Cohen. “We also rank them on a no-name basis relative to their friends in the ecosystem and to the TwentyTables whole community.”
TwentyTables plans to expand to other D.C. neighborhoods, Richmond and Baltimore throughout 2018 and 2019, with donations going to local food banks in those respective regions.
“All of our vendor partners are so engaged that whatever challenge we face, our partners are willing to work with us to make sure that Twenty Tables succeeds,” said Cohen.