The Gen Z Dinner Party Boom

The Gen Z Dinner Party Boom


Alessandra Abelli was quick to assure me that she did have friends. In fact, the chatty 24-year-old business analyst says she has always made friends easily. But after moving to New York post-college, she found them “scattered.” Many worked long hours in finance or consulting, others were busy working through graduate degrees. Abelli’s remote work setup meant no bonding at the office, and opportunities to meet new people in the wild felt few and far between. “Maybe this is a consequence of our generation and living digitally, but I feel like if I were to randomly go up to people and talk to them, they would probably be creeped out,” she says.

So Abelli started searching. After lots of Googling and spending time on an app called Geneva, which aims to connect people based on similar interests, Abelli was here, at Fornino, a rooftop pizza restaurant, for a dinner with 20 strangers. She, like everyone else eating fig and prosciutto pizzas and sipping hibiscus margaritas, was there to make new friends.

Abelli’s dinner had been organized by a New York group called The Girls NYC, which describes itself as “an exclusive social group for NYC women in their early 20s looking to make meaningful friendships.” It’s one of many such collectives that have sprung up around the country dedicated to connecting people in real life over a meal in the hopes of making new friends.

Skip the Small Talk, with outposts from Providence to San Francisco, hosts regular mixers at local breweries and bars. Los Angeles’ Bestie Brunch gathers women for a champagne and mimosa brunch to meet new friends. In Boston, the Aperitivo Society hosts themed multi-course dinners (oysters and wine! A Beantown bean bash!), often bringing in brand or chef collaborators, for a dozen people or less at a time, while the Dinner Party Project in Orlando brings eight strangers together over cocktails, an ornate tablescape, and a four-course meal prepared by a private chef.

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A gathering by The Girls NYC.Courtesy of The Girls NYC

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More from The Girls NYC gathering.Courtesy of The Girls NYC

Dinner parties are not exactly new, nor is the basic, human desire to connect with others. But these days, we’ve found ourselves lonelier than ever. According to a 2023 report from the Surgeon General, we’re in an “epidemic of loneliness and isolation.” People aged 15 to 24 are spending the least amount of time with each other, leading some to call Gen Z “the loneliest generation.” In a 2023 Pew Research Poll, less than a third of respondents under 30 said they had five or more close friends. Faced with isolation, young people across the country, particularly women, are using social media to organize dinners, brunches, and drinks meetups in hopes of making friends—or at the very least, feeling less alone.

One gathering called Dinner With Friends, a monthly dinner party featuring a themed three-course meal in founder Anita Michaud’s Brooklyn Heights apartment, is in its second year and has a waiting list hundreds of names long. Michaud, a 25-year-old who works in human resources, is a lot like Abelli: She moved to New York in 2021, and while working her corporate job, she quickly found herself incredulous that in a city of millions, she felt alone. Michaud went to college close to home, so moving to New York meant leaving family and friends for the first time. Between starting a new job and adjusting to this new phase of adult life in a new city, Michaud felt a loss of identity—adrift. “I think it’s something that a lot of people encounter,” she says.





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