There’s Something Crawling Around in This Swag Bag

IMG_0821Between all the galas, fundraisers, and VIP events, D.C. is a city swimming in swag bags. But EquityEats—a new restaurant crowdfunding platform in which investors earn profits, not just perks—may have just outdone them all at its launch party last night. As guests parted the event at Doi Moi, hosts handed out bags with live lobsters.

The idea came from EquityEats CEO Johann Moonesinghe as a way to promote one of their restaurants seeking funding called Lighthouse, which plans to serve a menu limited to burgers and whole lobsters.

"We were kind of like, 'Are you serious?'" says Steve Lucas, the vice president of strategy and communications for EquityEats. "But the more we thought about it, that was kind of a way to get across what the concept is about."

The company gave away more than 150 lobsters (two per bag) from D.C.-based supplier Lobster Maine-ia. (I opted not to take any.) Each guest got instructions to cook the lobsters within a day or two—the time they'd stay alive in a fridge.

"Part of us was like, 'Are people going to freak out that we're giving out lobsters?'" Lucas says. "But people were just in really good spirits and they took it to heart. And I think it was a good representation of Lighthouse...We wanted to do something that was different."

As of this morning, Lighthouse had raised 38 percent of its $665,000 goal. Three other restaurants are also currently seeking funding through EquityEats: a seafood counter called Albright Special, a seasonally focused American restaurant called Sussex Drive, and a bakery called Bluebird. Read more about EquityEats in Y&H's recent column.

Photo by Jessica Sidman