New Date Valet Website Offers Help to Hopeless Romantics
CHINATOWN — The biggest mistake a man — or a woman — can make in the dating process is not having a plan, according to Stanley Bastien.
In steps the Date Valet, a new Chinatown-based citywide dating service run by Bastien and a handful of his well-connected friends from the art, music and finance world.
Date Valet launched as a service in 2012 — before that it was something the team just dabbled in — and is set to debut its new website on Friday, offering hopeless daters a chance at redemption with a host of information and date "blueprints."
"The number one thing is not having a plan, in my humble opinion," said Bastien, a 39-year-old bachelor from Haiti who earned his dating stripes just by living and going out in New York City from his teenage years on.
"It really telegraphs a lot of things — you are not going to plan your life together, plan for your children," he said, acknowledging his opinion was both harsh and justified.
Taking a date to the place where you met him or her is also on Bastien's blacklist, as is not accounting for a woman who will likely be in sky-high heels.
“You want to go to the best restaurant, the best theater, the best bar, but you want to go to all three of those things within a few bocks of each other," he said.
That is where Date Valet helps iron out the wrinkles in typical dating plans.
In the membership-based service, daters submit information about their likes and dislikes, personalities and preferences, to give the Date Valet a sense of what an ideal date may look like.
With his group, which includes a chef, a gallerist and a musician who claim to have fingers on the pulse of each industry, Bastien pairs date activities with members.
He pointed out the barrage of food and entertainment blogs covering the more than 24,000 restaurants in the city.
"There are 2,000 more [restaurants] each year," Bastien said.
"These people [the Date Valet team] are curating everyday as they go through their normal activities," he said. Bastien said he prefers to keep his team anonymous.
Starting with a monthly fee of $9, the Date Valet has different levels of date involvement, from sending clients a dating "blueprint," to a concierge service where Date Valet takes care of booking the restaurant and show tickets, to carefully custom-created dates.
"This could be a weekend in Paris or a private dinner in an abandoned building,” said Bastien, boasting of actual dates the service has already pulled off.
It isn't just men who use the service. Many Date Valet clients are women, and many also use the service for reasons other than dating, according to Bastien.
"I use it for when clients come into town and I can't think of something and I want to go outside my normal circle," said Julie, a 37-year-old government worker who has lived in Manhattan for several years. "It is actually a way to explore the city or do something new."
Julie subscribes to the "valet" membership level, which has a monthly fee of $14 and buys five date plans. She notifies Bastien and his team when and who she needs to take out, and receives a date blueprint that's sent to her phone, and includes a map.
"It might be a restaurant in Nolita with a nice place to go beforehand that is within walking distance," she said.
When the new dating website launches in March, Bastien said there will be plenty of romantic and practical information for those who are not members, as well as special access for those who are.
For a final dating tip or even for a night out with friends, Bastien suggested adding a surprise element.
"It is the advanced element of planning — a little bit of a surprise," said Bastien, about what makes the Date Valet's expertise special. One tip he suggests, as an example: Not revealing the restaurant, just giving an address like "meet me at 26 Bond St."
"People love to come and participate in a movie — 'I can turn my brain off and just enjoy it,'" he said.