Café Speed Dating


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[W]hether they’re on their first or hundredth date, couples are easily spotted at coffee shops across the nation. It seemed natural, then, for SPoT Coffee, a franchise headquartered in Buffalo, New York, to facilitate a different type of rendezvous: speed dating.

For those who haven’t witnessed or experienced this round-robin–style activity, speed dating is a singles event where strangers gather at a venue, engage in a series of short dates, then decide if they’d like to see each other again. Couples typically spend five or six minutes together before moving onto the next date.

Laura Lee Lawrence, SPoT Coffee’s social media and customer relations manager, says SPoT Coffee’s atmosphere provides an engaging backdrop for the event.

“Our cafes are designed for a fun and lively experience,” Lawrence says. “We have art in our cafés and beautiful seating areas—from bar stools to lavish couches—ensuring that it’s always comfortable.”

SPoT Coffee has been successfully holding speed dating events for years. At their latest event in Rochester, New York, approximately thirty singles attended.

To make the event worthwhile for the café, a small purchase is required from each participant. However, profits are made far beyond the day of the event.

“These events inevitably bring new faces into our cafés,” Lawrence says. “More often than not, when someone is introduced to our cafe, we are bound to see them return.”

(Photo: Freddie Marriage.)

SPoT Coffee works with Pre-Dating Speed Dating, a speed dating event service. The service arranges the event, including preparations like scheduling, answering participant’s questions, and informing guests of any scheduling changes.

Pre-Dating Speed Dating also helps promote the event through social media and by offering special registration promotions. To boost the number of attendees, SPoT Coffee cross-promotes the event through their marketing platforms, using social media, in-store signage, and word of mouth.

“Our staff will oftentimes talk to customers about upcoming events in our cafes,” Lawrence says.

Working with Pre-Dating minimizes responsibilities for SPoT. With scheduling, registration, and primary promotion taken care of, the café staff just needs to stay updated on how many singles they can expect, and make plans to rearrange chairs and tables on the day of the event as needed.

“You don’t want to reserve a large space for a few people and you definitely don’t want to be understaffed for a large turnout,” she advises.

According to Lawrence, keeping events from becoming an annoyance or inconvenience to customers not attending the event is also key. At SPoT Coffee, minding other customers has never been an issue.

“We have yet to encounter any need to compromise on service due to one of these events,” she says. “As a matter of fact, these types of events can infuse the café with a very fun vibe.”

For café owners, holding speed dating events can also be personally rewarding. “It’s nice to play a part in such a feel-good event,” Lawrence says. “You never know if two people may meet in your café and get married.”

—Carimé Lane is a Vancouver-based freelance writer.

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