Tuesday, September 27, 2022 Sep 27, 2022
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Cover Story

Plus: One brave editor swallows her pride and signs up for a dating service.

One brave editor swallows her pride and signs up for a dating service.
By Jennifer Chininis |

I am a smart, self-sufficient, career-minded 26-year-old with a great sense of humor and a winning smile. I can run an editorial department as surely as I can whip up a dinner party for 12. And I love football. But even with those credentials, my dance card is empty. I’ve had so much trouble meeting even Mr. Somewhere Close to Right, that I decided to take a chance on a dating service instead of spending another Friday night watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s in my pajamas.

The fact is, I am hugely insecure about dating. But then again, who wouldn’t be in a city like Dallas, where most men are looking for supermodels in shimmering tube tops, and sadly, they’re likely to find one. But a dating service? I’d always felt they were for losers. Was I admitting defeat or being proactive?

Enter Sarah Kathryn Smith, 25, a petite dead ringer for Scarlet O’Hara and the owner of Eight at Eight, a “premier dating club for singles.” Her concept is simple: get together eight, single, like-minded, professional men and women for dinner and see what develops. There’s no one-on-one pressure and you might just make a few friends, business acquaintances, or love interests in the process. Smith has been running Eight at Eight for two and a half years in Atlanta, and, in June of this year, launched the Dallas office with partner Terri Bailey. Members sign up online and are, on average, 27-35 years old. One hundred percent have college degrees, and 25 percent have advanced degrees.

When members pick an event they’d like to attend, Smith reviews the applicants and mixes people she thinks might be compatible. Then she sets up events at restaurants all over town—Patrizio, Antonio’s Ristorante in Addison Circle, Il Sole, and Cuba Libre to name a few.

There was a dubious feeling in the pit of my stomach when her e-mail landed in my in box. Did I want to go to a dinner or hit delete? I admitted that I had nothing to lose except another Monday night football game.

Nervously (will I be the geek or will they?) I arrived at Antonio’s where Terri introduced me to the others at the bar—Jeff, LaShelle, Chris, and Lauren—and (smartly) brought me a glass of Merlot. Within minutes Shelby, Chilly, and Joel arrived and we were shown to our table (assigned seating, of course). As I peered around the table I was surprised at how comfortable I felt with seven strangers—they all looked and acted like the people that I currently dine with.

I sat in between Shelby, a photographer, and Joel, a network engineer. Across from me was Lauren, who reminded me so much of a good friend from a previous job that we instantly hit it off. I was one of four first-timers in the group, but three of the four men had met at a previous event, so there was no awkward tension at the table. Conversation came easy—topics ranged from Hong Kong to the State Fair to who ate the last of the chocolate chips on the chocolate mousse cake. By the end of the meal, we were chatting like old friends.

But I didn’t feel any sparks. After dinner we went back up to the bar to catch the last of the Cowboys game and I noticed that one couple seemed to be hitting it off, but I left once the Cowboys—thankfully—clinched the win.

The next day I found an e-mail from Chilly in my in box. “It was great meeting all of you,” she wrote. All day long the group exchanged cyber hellos and news of happy hours later in the week.

Would I do it again? Sure. But next time I’m wearing my tube top.

For more information about Eight at Eight, call 214-887-8811 or visit www.8at8.com to fill out an online application. Each event costs $40 plus the cost of the meal.