Licensed to grill

by Walter Olson on September 12, 2013

CBS New York reports breathlessly on underground dinner parties in New York — people invite strangers into their homes! And charge them money! — and quotes an ex-official who says it should be illegal unless they get a restaurant-type license. [CBS New York (auto-plays video ad), Shackford] Radley Balko, on Twitter: “Reporter astonished that New Yorkers invite people into their homes for dinner without notifying the local politburo.” More: J.D. Tuccille.

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the Revision Division
09.15.13 at 8:55 am

{ 6 comments }

1 ras 09.12.13 at 1:24 pm

“Why don’t you come over for dinner tonight, say around 6?”

“Sure, what can we bring?”

“A nice bottle of wine”

/illegal socializing in NYC

2 jesse spurway 09.12.13 at 1:53 pm

I need to let my step-mother know about his. She got closed down for having a “yard sale” every weekend. She doesn’t live in NYC, but it is a start.

3 Don Keefhardt 09.12.13 at 5:25 pm

Of course, it’s OK to do it if it’s under the guise of a “political fundraiser” !!!!

4 Bill Poser 09.12.13 at 6:31 pm

To be fair, it looks like dinner parties of the normal sort are not at risk. When you have your friends to dinner, you don’t charge for the meal. The problem here seems to be that by charging for the meal these people are behaving like restaurants.

5 Ron Miller 09.12.13 at 7:44 pm

Why are we calling them dinner parties? These are underground restaurants right? Why call them dinner parties? It loads the gun for people to think gov’t is coming for our actual dinner parties when nothing of the sort is implicated here. RAS underscores this point.

There are health and safety issues. There are zoning issues. Do you really want to live next door? Are the paying taxes? It is not a crime against the people but it is not a good thing either.

As for the reporter being breathless, let us not get breathless about his breathlessness. Reporters are breathless by just about everything. It would seem that we like them this way or the free market would not create so many of them.

6 gitarcarver 09.15.13 at 12:29 pm

The question that needs to be asked is “who is harmed and who benefits from these get togethers?

If the chef is receiving money for his services, then he is responsible for the income tax.

A commenter in this thread said there are health and safety concerns. In another thread the same commentor said that as a situation had not occured, it was pointless to worry about. So just how many people have become ill from gatherings such as these dinner parties? Absent of real harm, and assuming the guests know the premises have not been “inspected,” what is the real problem here? That people are gathering in a social setting where some government flunky has not decreed they are “safe?” That instead of a kithchen hidden behind doors people can watch a chef in their homes create meals?

Another concern was vehicle traffic. I am not sure how much traffic 6 to 10 guests in a city that mostly travels by walking and cabs are going to generate, but absent of any real complaints, how is that an issue?

Opening a restaurant in NYC is incredibly time consuming and expensive. Most of that time and expense is due to government interference or approval. And that’s fine. If that is the way a person wants to go, they should.

But in the case of the dinner parties, you have people who get together, understand the issues, and are willing to create a contract for a unique dining experience. The government has no compelling interest here.

The bottom line is that the people benefit while government inspectors and businesses which teach you how to deal with those inspectors (which is troubling itself) are the ones who lose.

And we know the government can’t allow that.

How dare people interact without government approval.

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