EAST VILLAGE — Cream, sugar — or till death do us part?
Eighteen months to the day after meeting his girlfriend on a blind date at popular East Village java joint the Mudspot Café, Daniel Chan returned to the East Ninth Street coffee shop to pop the question to her Sunday morning.
Surrounded by dozens of pictures of the happy couple as well as friends and family, Chan got on bended knee during the morning coffee rush hour to declare his love to his girlfriend, Jenn Chen, who eagerly accepted his proposal.
"It was good from the start, and it never went bad. It was just perfect," said Chan, 27, who drove his blindfolded girlfriend from their Hell's Kitchen apartment to the East Village location's newly renovated back courtyard at 8 a.m. Sunday
"Basically her jaw dropped. She wasn't expecting it at all," he said, adding that he and his friends decked out the courtyard with photos of the happy couple.
Chan said he picked the coffee shop to propose because it played a large part in their successful courtship.
"I think it [Mudspot] has become really special for both of us," said Chen, who previously lived in the East Village and would frequent Mudspot long before her boyfriend came into the picture. "He suggested it [for the first date], and I thought that was really interesting."
The Mudspot is the brick-and-mortar version of the popular Mudtruck mobile coffee vendor, which has served up strong brews from its spot next to the uptown 6 train station in Astor Place since 2000.
Chan and Chen were introduced by a friend, and the two had only spoken and emailed a few times in the month before going on a nervous first date.
"It was a little awkward, because I had never gone on a blind date before," Chan said. "I didn't know anything about this person."
Their good chemistry took them from a long coffee at Mud, to a walk in Tompkins Square park, to a meal at Sushi Lounge on St. Mark's Place.
"We lost track of time," said Chan, of the five-hour first date.
Since then, the pair have returned to Mud for their six-month and one-year anniversaries, with the 18-month mark commemorated by the engagement. They plan to wed next summer.
Although the couple had already picked out a 1.4-carat antique-style ring, Chen thought a proposal was still months away.
Julie Tribble, a restaurant manager of four years at Mudspot, said the cafe is a popular date destination because of its casual atmosphere and offerings that range from simple coffee to dinner with beer and wine.
"People come in on blind dates and you can tell — they are waiting for someone that they don't know what to look out for," Tribble said. "They are a little nervous.
"It is really nice to see that people have found each other in a place that we have created," she added.
The couple said their relationship is a lot like the venue, with its laid-back vibe and roots in the East Village.
"This was just a grand gesture," Chen said, "making sure I was at my favorite place with my favorite people."