Living off the City

By Josh Hume

If you want to know where to get free food and drink in your city, just ask a bike courier. By covering a city’s topography every day, going in and out of a variety of buildings and businesses, couriers come across some of its best kept secrets: where the wine and cheeses are, which office lobbies serve free coffee and who is hosting large events where one can anonymously exploit the host bar. The bike courier is the perfect resource for valuable information on how to live off the urban landscape just as a Boy Scout would live off the land.

One New York-based website has been providing such information to anybody who wants it in the form of updated daily boards that let the reader know where in the city one can find free, or at least really cheap, libations. This consists mostly of happy hours, liquor or beer company promotions and the occasional gala event. The site offers all the necessary details, including prices (if applicable), what the deals are and logistics for avoiding undue attention at private events.

The site has created a veritable scene of freeloaders, for there are many who pursue listed events on a regular basis. It has also attracted the attention of some promoters who see the potential in the site for free publicity. Any listing immediately confers the underground aesthetic of glamorous penury.

According to co-founder and “hipster apologist” Seva Granik, they sometimes get into trouble for publicizing happenings that aren’t necessarily open to the public. “Beefs do happen,” says Granik, acknowledging the many occasions that birthday parties and private events were crashed on account of a myopenbar.com listing. But given the numerous tips the website receives daily, and the subversive nature of the project, these things are bound to happen.

Although myopenbar.com focuses primarily on booze, free food events are also posted from time to time when they are brought to the attention of the editors.

Currently myopenbar.com operates websites for New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, but Granik and his partners Rob Hitt, Jason Fried and Rebecca Smeyne are currently working on plans to expand operations to Chicago and Washington D.C.

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