Friday, September 21, 2012 , Updated 2:07 p.m., September 21, 2012
Group dating service Grouper launches in Dallas
Some of the spots where attendees will meet up are The Chesterfield, The People’s Last Stand, Bryan Street Tavern, and Two Corks and a Bottle.
DALLAS When it comes to dating, three’s a crowd. But when it comes to a Grouper, three is apparently the magic number. Grouper is a New York-based social club that is bringing its re-imagined group dating concept to Dallas this month.
The process is simple: Sign up through their website using your Facebook login. Grouper finds a match for you and arranges a meet-up. You bring two friends and your match brings two friends. The two groups know nothing about each other until they meet for the first time at a local bar, where the first round of drinks is pre-paid.
Using information it gathers from Facebook and a brief questionnaire, Grouper uses an algorithm and a “human touch” to try to make the meeting successful.
“We think about it in terms of stacking the deck,” said Founder and CEO Michael Waxman. “The gender ratio is exactly right – three guys and three girls – we have all people in the same age range who have common interests or some common elements about their backgrounds."
A spokesperson says Grouper can also support gay matchups as long as the system can find other people in the area whose interests align.
Waxman created Grouper to, as he says, “scratch his own itch.” About a year ago, he was new to New York City and looking for a way to meet other young professionals. What started as a meet-up with a couple of friends who didn’t know each other turned into a business venture. And it worked, both professionally and socially, as he gained some new friends and his current girlfriend.
But was it intended to be a dating service? “We don’t really like labels,” he said. “We’re just trying to recreate a context to meet people like the way people naturally come together at house parties or bars.”
Logan Carbonari, a 24-year-old Sales Development Specialist in New York who has used Grouper, said he wouldn’t consider using a traditional dating site but has gone on three Groupers. For him, it’s not about finding the love of his life; it’s about expanding his social network.
“It’s really good they’ve decided to call themselves a social club, because I think that’s really the best way to think of it,” said Carbonari. “Obviously with a pairing of three and three, there’s potential for something to happen. But more or less, it’s just an opportunity to meet some new people and chat and have a good time.”
He believes having his friends along takes a lot of the pressure off the meeting. The group dynamic leads to easier conversations and a more relaxed atmosphere.
Meet-ups are arranged on weeknights when bars are typically less busy. Grouper partners with local venues, selected for some logistical requirements as well as their “cool” factor. They look for locally owned, more upscale venues that members may not have been exposed to before. Dallas Groupers will experience places like The Chesterfield, The People’s Last Stand, Bryan Street Tavern, or Two Corks and a Bottle.
“We decided to get involved with Grouper because it sounded like an interesting idea where they were trying to put together a process for people to meet people,” said John Ley, co-owner of Two Corks and a Bottle. “And certainly we’re always looking for new guests. We have lots of parties and dates and things like that here. So I think they’ll fit right in.”
Ley also thought Grouper would help increase weekday traffic to the Uptown custom winery and wine bar, possibly leading to repeat business.
“[Grouper] is going to be bringing people in that likely have not been here yet. They’ll get to try our wines. And most people that try our wines come back,” Ley said.
The average Groupers are single professionals in their mid-twenties to early thirties. Matt Thatcher, a 31-year-old compliance officer from Fort Worth, fits the profile for a would-be user, but says he’s not likely to be one of the first Dallas area residents to test it.
“I’m open to trying anything,” he said. “But I’d definitely say it’s probably geared more toward people like [ages] 21-25.”
He added that although he is not likely to initiate a Grouper himself, he would probably tag along if a friend asked him.
Grouper may not be for everyone, but most say a group date is considerably more enjoyable than a blind one-on-one. “It makes for good water cooler conversation,” said Waxman. “People, win or lose, love to tell the tales of their Grouper and how it went and the people they met.”
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