Get a date!
Local matchmaking service offers variety of carefully planned dates—including dinner for six
Shawn Davis has been matchmaking for as long as she can remember. In high school, she was often the go-between for guys hoping to ask girls to the prom or wondering if a crush was mutual. After graduating, she moved to San Francisco and lived in a girls’ boarding house run by a church. The rules were strict, and she used them to her advantage.
“I’d be walking back from work and I’d always see a lot of sailors. I’d kind of check them out; they looked like nice guys. And I would say, ‘Hey, do you guys have dates tonight?’” she recalled. “‘No? Well, I can get dates for all you guys tonight.’
“We lived in a protected environment. What the guys didn’t know was, unless they knew our last names, they could never come visit us or call us there. Those were the rules of the house. So, we’d just use our first names, and if we liked a guy, the consent we would give would be to give them our last name.”
Davis has come a long way from her boarding house days, but she learned a few tricks from those rules that helped make her and her housemates feel safe while dating. And she now uses similar guidelines in her business, Dinner4Six, when she sets up dates for local singles.
“Everyone pays their own way, and there’s no exchanging of contact information. Everyone knows what the rules are,” Davis said. “It’s understood that everyone is going to conduct themselves like ladies and gentlemen. If they don’t, I stop inviting them.”
Dinner4Six is a fairly simple concept: Singles who are ready to mingle contact Davis and she asks some basic questions about interests, hobbies, priorities in a mate, as well as age and height. Then she gets started setting up a date. The dinners are exactly what they sound like: six people—three men and three women—dining at a local restaurant. The participants use first names only. If anyone hits it off with anyone else, they call Davis and request the other’s phone number. She gives out numbers only if both parties put in the request.
“You can’t tell compatibility by looking at someone’s photo online and being pen pals,” she said of how her service compares with online dating. “That chemistry, whether it’s pheromones or whatever it is, you never really know until you meet in person.”
If you take a look at the Dinner4Six website, you’ll find dozens of “success stories.” In its 17 years, the service has made countless matches. Tony and Heather Rushing are just one of them.
“I did Dinner4Six off and on for a number of years. I would take a break if I didn’t meet anyone, and then I’d go back and try again,” said Tony. “One day Shawn gave me a call and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got some new members; you might like them. Luckily I listened to her, because that new girl was just the one for me.”
For Tony and Heather, it was chemistry plus shared interests that got them each other’s phone numbers. They were both in shape and enjoyed outdoor activities like dirt-bike riding and hiking. For Heather, it was actually her second match made through Dinner4Six. The first lasted four years.
“We broke up, and two weeks later I went to another Dinner4Six and met Tony. The timing was pretty amazing,” she said.
Both Heather and Tony say they were attracted to Davis’ dating service because it made meeting people fun and took the pressure off the first date.
“It’s a safe environment to meet people, because if you’re not interested in someone else, they’re not going to get your number,” Heather said.
“Even if you don’t meet anyone, you have dinner with nice people,” added Tony.
In addition to dinners, Davis also offers monthly mixers, potlucks and other events such as speed-dating and camp-outs. If a member approaches Davis and really wants to go horseback riding, she says she’ll do her best to find a potential match who likes the same activity. She sets up one-on-one dates as well as group functions.
“Some people just want to socialize, get their confidence up. That works for most people,” Davis said. “Other people are in a really big hurry. So, I can do something a little more fine-tuned just for them.”
Davis is in fact one of her own success stories. She remembers vividly when Steve Davis moved to town from Arizona and joined Dinner4Six as an eligible bachelor.
“He had come to several events and I had had my eye on him,” she recalled. “He was surprised by that because he thought I was off-limits. We went to lunch and it turned into a four-hour lunch. We had so many things in common. We’ve now been together 11 years, married for eight.”
It’s evident while speaking with Davis about her job that she loves what she does. She added matchmaking to her list of skills a few years ago and these days she networks with others in her field across the world, offering advice and helping arrange long-distance meetups as well. The fact that she found her own partner at work was icing on the cake.
“It’s fun, and to know I helped someone fall in love—what’s better than that?” she said, laughing. “I’ve also made some really great friends. The more I get to know them, the better job I can do, too. What better job is there than talking and emailing with my friends all day, planning parties all day, and socializing all the time?”