"Lunch Date provides forum where singles meet"

If you are single, as I am, and past the age where mass-gyrating in a sweaty, smoky, deafening loud club in the Flats or the Warehouse District is an option, you've noticed that Greater Cleveland is a very married community. That attractive person you spot across the room who sets your heart to fluttering is almost invariably wearing a wedding ring. Or at least "taken."

The bar scene is grim, personal ads have a deadening sameness - everyone in the world claims to like candlelight dinners, long walks on the beach, having a good sense of humor and honesty. Sexual harassment Laws and common sense have rendered the workplace a terrible idea for making contacts with the gender of your choice, and approaching an attractive stranger on the street will likely wind you up in custody.

Many of the dating services available make big claims, but are likely to pair you up with anyone who is breathing. Computer match-ups are iffy, at best.

What is a lonely single to do?

Lunch Date is a possible answer, at least according to its founder, chief executive officer and chief matchmaker, Mike Green.

A native Clevelander, the 39-year-old Green spent several years in Chicago selling medical supplies. When he came back to Cleveland he was struck by the differences in the two cities, dating wise. Chicago, he says, is full of people who are from somewhere else, who get out more and meet new people. A great many Cleveland singles were born here and are simply too busy to get out amongst 'em where the action is.

So four and a half years ago he created Lunch Date, a people-matching outfit that is, in my experience, unique. Mike Green re-defines the idea of personal service.

It's very upscale; clients are all white-collar professionals, and range in age from 25 to 65 - so far. The service is open to all races, but a majority of applicants are Caucasian.

No computers, no photos or videos here. Mr. Green interviews each applicant personally, screening out those he doesn't feel fit the member profile. Since he currently works out of his home, he goes to interview prospective clients in their homes or businesses.

"I can get more of a feel for a person if they're on their own turf," he says.

He asks all the usual questions: what do you like, what's your lifestyle, what are you looking for. He urges people to be realistic in their search - no 60year-old men looking for twentysomething arm trophies. Then, back at the office, he pores over his files until he finds what he thinks would be an agreeable match.

He sets up the dates himself; no client is ever given another's phone number or last name. They meet, usually under time-controlled conditions such as lunch (hence the firm's name) or over coffee.

"After that, it's up to them," he says.

His success rate is rather astonishing; 41 marriages have been jump-started over a Lunch Date meeting, and at least 50 other couples have happily removed themselves from the system, satisfied with their introductions.

It's a bit pricey - $595 guarantees you at least six matches. But with the amount of grunt-work Mr. Green does . it's hard enough for two people to set up a mutually convenient time and place between themselves, much less through a third party - he thinks it's worth at least $1,500.

Mr. Green has one full-time employee and two part-timers, but since he conducts the initial interviews himself, he's the one who makes all the matches.

"It's a ton of work," he says, and looks tired enough to prove it.

Mike Green is himself single, but "involved." And no, he never dates his clients. "It's been tempting once or twice, but for me this is strictly a business. A lucrative one, too.

Lunch Date's phone number is (216) 687-8139. So if you white-collar types are looking out there, have your people call Mike Green's people and let's do lunch.

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