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'So long' to the table for one

Dating and dining converge at dining clubs

Published: Monday, Aug. 4, 2014 2:57 p.m. CDT

Dining and dating seem like a perfect match for generating new relationships and good times. Many people are either “single-looking-to-mingle” or know someone who needs a social kick in the pants to get them into a meaningful and gratifying relationship.  If you enjoy a good meal, and would like to engage your foodie side with new friends, a singles’dining club might be right for you.

SingleSync is an organization that hosts weekly dinner parties and dinner dances called Gourmet Connections. Jim Senhauser (who goes by “Senny”) is the president and host for events.

“Hosting dining events is a great way to ‘break the ice’ in what sometimes can feel like an awkward situation for singles and the newly-single (through divorce or the death of a spouse) as they get back into the adult dating world,” Senny says. “It is a comfortable approach to meeting and getting to know other singles over time who are in the same situation as you on a ‘friends-first’ basis. It is more natural than contrived party games, timed ‘mini-dates’ or fix-ups.”

And while the group atmosphere can spell relief for many who may feel the pressure of the one-to-one blind date, Senny says that many first-timers remain nervous.

“One thing that I have found is that many singles are apprehensive the first time that they come to one of our parties. Their biggest fear is that nobody will talk to them. Often they bring a friend for support,” he explains. “What they don’t realize is that everybody has been in the same situation they are now. As a result, everybody is very friendly and outgoing and conversation flows freely. For any of our parties, over 90 percent of the people attending arrive by themselves.”

Senny went on to say the Gourmet Connections offers a “relational approach to meeting and dating.”  “Participants can expect to meet a lot of nice single people, who are friendly, outgoing and most of whom are interested in dating and developing relationships,” he says. “Ours is a not a transactional approach like the Internet.

At every party, about a third of the participants are regular attendees for the area in which the party is being held, about a third are occasional attendees, and the other third are new attendees, Senny explains.

“This is our twelfth year in business, and we have generated numerous of marriages, relationships and lasting friendships,” Senny says. “My lawyer was one of the participants who met his wife at one of our events.”

Participants can choose to have a SingleSync membership or pay for each event separately.  “We have several levels of membership, with the most popular being free.” Senny explains, “Most events run between $30 and $40, including a full meal. Some are as little at $3-$15.”

Furthermore, the parties are all over the Chicago area, making it easy for anyone to join. Two-thirds of the parties are in Chicago’s suburbs and one-third in the city.

“We host events as far north as Palatine and Highland Park and as far south as around I-55. We go from the city to as far west as Route 59 in Naperville and South Barrington,” he says. “People come from all areas to our events. We have some who come from Milwaukee, Crystal Lake, Gurnee, Tinley Park and Frankfurt to our more central parties.”

When asked for a good candidate for a Gourmet Connection, Senny says guests should be between 30 and 65 years old and “somebody who is open to meeting new singles of the opposite gender, the possibility of dating and developing relationships of all types.” Most importantly, he notes, “they should like to eat, talk, possibly drink and dance, and most of all, to be open to having a great time.” You can see listed events at www.SingleSync.com or www.GourmetConnections.com.

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