Grab Coffee, and a Date, at Wall Street's New Matchmaker Cafe

By Irene Plagianos on July 25, 2013 6:43am 

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Love is brewing.

Matchmaker Café, a pop-up cart at the plaza and beer garden outside upscale hotel Andaz Wall Street, has been serving coffee — and connecting couples — since launching two weeks ago.

The shop is an outpost for longtime New York City matchmaker Nancy Slotnick’s virtual concierge dating service of the same name, which she started in November.

“We’re really happy to have an actual spot for people to meet," Slotnick said.

"We’re trying to help harness that serendipity that naturally happens between two people — and maybe give it a little bit of a push.”

The cafe, which serves coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company, is part of the city's new effort to energize the publicly owned private spaces — known as POPs — that run along Water Street. The program, called Water Street Pops!, includes a variety of activities and events through Labor Day, to help reinvigorate the Sandy-hit neighborhood.

At the cafe, as matchmaker-baristas serve up coffee they also try to find out if the customer is single. 

“Since we have a huge sign that says Matchmaker Café, people usually ask about it, but sometimes we just let them know what we’re all about," Slotnick said.

"The idea is to connect local people with each other, get them offline and actually meeting, even if it's for a quick 20-minute coffee.”

If single customers are interested, Slotnick takes their picture, chats about their dating life and uploads them into her database of New York City singles.

The single guy or gal can then look through the database of photos on Slotnick's iPad of other people who stopped by the pop-up cafe, to see if anyone piques his or her interest. If so, Slotnick or one of her matchmakers will make the connection between the potential couple.

For this week, making a call to potential dates is still free, but starting next week Slotnick will charge $5 for three calls and $10 for 10 calls. She also offers longer dating advice sessions and subscriptions to her online dating site, which has more than 5,000 members.

New customer Kathleen Christatos, 27, who stopped by the pop-up recently, said she was excited to get offline with dating, and have Slotnick guide her through the process.

"This just feels simple," said Christatos as Slotnick emailed several young men from the cafe, whom Christatos chose by perusing the database on Slotnick's iPad. "It makes it feel a little easier and personal."

The pop-up is a continuation of Drip Café, an Upper West Side coffee shop Slotnick launched in 1996 which was devoted to helping people find relationships during its nine-year run.

At Drip, customers could spend time flipping through binders of hand-written dating profiles, and then Slotnick would help schedule a date at the cafe.

Slotnick, who was featured on "Oprah" thanks to her cafe and dating book, "Turn Your Cablight On," said hundreds of marriages came out of her Drip days.

Since launching Matchmaker Café's pop-up, Slotnick said she has collected about 30 profiles and set up a handful of dates.

"We'd like to make this permanent, and have this in neighborhoods across the city," Slotnick said. "I think the idea of a cafe is [a] very friendly, inviting place — a regular hangout where you can let your guard down, and maybe be open to something more."

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