You hit the nail on the head. Our little group, although started around food, has become much more than that. It has been about community. I've lived in many places in the past where neighbours do not interact and keep to themselves, but where I am now, we lookout for each other and help each other out.
I think it would be good to have some added functionality, like a "What do I bring to the table" section or this could be part of each user's profile. It may also need some vetting system to increase efficiencies, however, I must say that some of the inefficiencies are part of the beauty of our little system which make it more humane. For example placing bets if John will actually show up tonight, or if the lasagna will turn out better than last time, etc... etc... although something should be done in regards to payments. In our case, it always balances out in the end.
To develop trust in a new platform setting, I would suggest holding icebreaker meet and greet sessions at the local park or pub for starters then a group core will naturally form on its own and things will develop form there on their own (without any external interference). Surely a rating system would also help a lot in terms of forming the initial guest list. Private messaging would definitely be available. I'd be keen to take it further , however would have reservations on how "app-y" the end result will be. In our case of using Whatsapp, we don't even think of whatsapp, it's just something there in the background, as opposed to using a purpose-built app, hope that makes sense. Not sure I explained it well.
Our little food group definitely extends beyond just food. But somehow I can say that it works extremely well due to its simplicity. There's no pressure on anyone to do anything they normally wouldn't do. We don't intend to share recipes or recipes at all, or anything like that. it's more a go-with-the-flow kind of community. We find if you start putting boundaries and rules around it, it becomes just another app.
Having said that, my wife does get some good recipe ideas over the dinner table, and now the girls in the group attend a weekly yoga class at the local community centre. I am all for an app to enable or facilitate and connect people for such a cause, but would really just keep it simple. That's why Whatsapp has been so successful, it's so simple, and no fuss.
I see you point of view through, and believe there are heaps of other apps for that.
Thanks for sharing, I wasn't aware of those platforms... They look great. I think the difference between what I was proposing and these ones are the local factor. That factor plays the biggest part in our little community. One might travel a few kilometers for a special meal once in a while, but having it close by in your neighbourhood, makes all the difference.
I guess what I propose is providing the platform for people to create and manage their own groups on. A bit like a Facebook event, where you can see who is or isn't coming... something more professional than whatsapp! But great platforms for trying new things.