Underground Dining Groups: Q&A With Beth Persons of Algonquin

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Algonquin Facebook photos
Can you believe we're already on week three of South Florida's Underground Dining Groups miniseries? The next group may not even need an introduction or a mention, as they're the oldest and largest of the bunch, rounding out at about 1,000 members. Not to forget, they're the chicest too. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Algonquin group.

They offer the best Monday-night deal in Miami, bar none. Most dinners round out at $40 and include an appetizer, entrée, and dessert plus a glass of wine. You'd normally shell out $50-plus for one entrée at most of the restaurants the dinners are hosted at. Although most dinners are held in the Miami area, it's worth the drive, and you may even nab yourself a date for the weekend.  

Want to know how the group got its cool name? Read on...

Clean Plate Charlie: How did the Algonquin group originate, and who are its founders? What does the word Algonquin mean? 
Beth Persons: The group originated on May 8, 2006, on a Monday night with five friends and a dinner. During dinner, the name Algonquin was picked as a reference to the Algonquin Hotel in NYC where Dorothy Parker and other cultural tastemakers of NYC met and socialized in the 1920s. The group has grown into a meeting of young professionals in Miami focused on food, drinks, and restaurants. Over 1,000 people are on the list and receive the weekly email invite. Twenty to 60 people usually attend the weekly dinners. In addition to exposure to new culinary experiences -- restaurants, neighborhoods -- new relationships, jobs, golf partners, friendships, and great times have been born from the Algonquin weekly dinners. Beth Persons and Joanna Popper are the original founders of the group, but its growth can be attributed to the large number of people that care about its staying power.

How are the events coordinated? Who coordinates the events?
The great thing about the group is that it's continually growing and changing. The events are very interactive, as a new person hosts the dinner every week. The host selects the restaurant and organizes the menu with the restaurant. The host also writes up the catchy invite, which then gets sent out to the whole group and posted on the Facebook page. Each Monday, a different group of people gather and have a great night at a different restaurant. 

What is the mission of the group? 
The group is a "social lily pad" for Miami. Algonquin brings a diverse set of people together around food, conversation, and great ambiance in exciting restaurants. 

Do you want the group to become more mainstream, and what are you doing to achieve this goal?
The group is open to anyone who is interested in attending. While we have received some press in the past, the group has mainly grown through word of mouth. People can like us on Facebook or receive the weekly invites by signing up to our Google Group

Give me some ideas that are brewing in your head for future events.
Our next big event is in May for our five-year anniversary party. 

Join the Algonquin group to eat with the best of Miami at the hottest spots in Miami: Find it on Facebook and on Google


Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.
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