The Sun Press

Let's do Lunch, Love

Shaker Heights Entrepreneur plays Cafeteria Cupid

by Vondell Petry


In the fast paced, warp speed 90's, the traditional matchmaker has gone the way of the horse and buggy. So what are lonely singles to do? Some are hooking up with "Lunch Date."

A dating service in its second year, Lunch Date is the brainchild of Shaker Heights resident Mike Green, who is an absolute zealot about getting people together. A native of University Heights and holder of a B.B.A. from Ohio State University, Green left Chicago in 1991 to return to Cleveland. But he found after a few short months that the Cleveland of his youth was not meeting his social needs. "Chicago is a place full of strangers. Everyone has come there from somewhere else. There's a lot to do and lots of enthusiastic people willing to come out," he said. "Cleveland is more family oriented. Opportunities for busy single professionals to meet and get to know one another are more limited."

Armed with this realization, the 30 something Green remembered dating concepts seen around the country that matched white collar professionals in a casual environment for coffee, lunch, or a drink.

"You didn't have to commit to anything but lunch. The time and energy required were minimal. If you found after a few minutes into the meal that the date was less than you had imagined, all you were required to do is finish the meal." Lunch Date is run similarly. Green takes away much of the risk and anxiety out of meeting a new person. Those who join Lunch Date, meet informally with Green to spell out their particulars: The kind of person they want to meet, interests, level of education and specifics you would like to avoid. Green then compares the criteria to that of opposite sex member subscribers, searching for a match.

But before setting up a lunch date, he gets permission from each party that the perspective date sounds satisfactory. With a green light from each party, Green arranges the date, even selecting an appropriate meeting place geographically acceptable to both. No last names and no phone numbers are exchanged until the lunch date, and only then if both choose to.

"Lots of our clients work downtown, so finding good lunch locations is easy. For those who work farther out, we'll sometimes arrange for weekend coffee meetings," he said. The advantages to all of this, says the ruggedly attractive, high spirited Cupid, is simple: "Since Lunch Date has done all the leg work, all the client needs to do is show up."

And show up they do.

"Mike goes the distance," said one 50-something businessman. "I have tremendous faith and trust in his judgment. He found me some quality individuals to meet for lunch."

"I feel safe with this service," said a female attorney. "Mike and I have talked a great deal and he knows me, my likes and dislikes. I can be frank with him too. That's important. If a date isn't working, I can tell Mike exactly why."

Another woman, a business consultant sang Green's praises. "It's personalized. I know Mike, not some computer, is looking out for my best interest." This woman (who like the others interviewed, requested anonymity) said broad based dating services which rely on computer matching were far too impersonal. "It's also very expensive," this lady reminded.

For six guaranteed lunch dates, Green charges clients $595 . The dates usually occur within six months, but if a client is a frequent traveler, for example, the time is extended. Similarly, if a first date works out and the couple begin a relationship that ends in three or four months, Green will extend the time period until the person has had the six lunch meetings.

Green has gained a reputation for fairness and ethical behavior as well as virtuosity when it comes to matchmaking. When confronted with this compliment, Green just shrugs. "People are looking for quality mates. What I try to do is offer a qualified way that allows them the trust they need to do that."

One happy client summed it up. "Mike Green has given me back the confidence and the faith that there are good, decent, quality, fun people out there and that I can meet them. That's worth a lot, in my opinion."

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