Matchmaker, matchmaker

The pre-app, personal touch of Table for Six’s dating and dining service.
Table for Six a dating and dining service.

With Tinder and other flirtatious social media so accessible, surely there’s no room left in the getting-people-together market for something as genteel and quaint as Table for Six, the introduction service with branches in Auckland, Wellington and the US.

On the contrary, according to managing director Jaci Capriotti, the company that she founded 22 years ago is busier than ever.

“We host dinners from Tuesday to Saturday, every week of the year,” says Capriotti. And not just dinners – there are “things like, last week we had a mix and mingle at the Viaduct with drinks and canapés. We have cocktail parties, which are really popular at a penthouse in town. We do things like horse- riding days and kayaking. We go to Queenstown for the Winter Festival every year and do ski trips. They put on a beautiful masquerade ball down there. We’ve also done overseas trips to Thailand and Australia.”

And although many people who sign up end up forming friendships, rather than relationships, yes, of course, people who meet at Table for Six do go on to get married. After all, they’ve paid the deposit, so to speak. Some of them do it more than once.

“We get a lot of people who’ve met their first partner through us and then, down the track, they’ve met their second or third partners though us. That’s quite common.”

Less common was the experience of another couple who met through Table for Six. They liked it so much they bought the company and ran it for some time before Capriotti, who had been overseas setting up the US arm, bought it back from them after she returned to New Zealand.

Potential diners visit the Table for Six office, fill out a profile form and sign up for a year. At the dinner, they will have been grouped with people whose company they’re likely to enjoy – “like meeting five potential new friends”. They are greeted by a Table for Six hostess, who will “introduce them on a first-name basis, get them chatting and leave them to it. She could be there five minutes or half an hour, depending if anyone’s running late.”

Capriotti says Table for Six has stared down the challenge of online meeting opportunities because there are still many people who like their human interaction to come with “the personal touch. We get a lot of people who say they have tried online dating and it hasn’t been successful.”

With Table for Six, “people have to face up, pay their money, have an interview”. With online dating, it’s notoriously easy for people to hide their imperfections or deficiencies behind a computer screen. “You’re on a computer – you can say, ‘I look like this or that’ when you don’t. Another thing a lot of people say is it takes forever to meet someone online, with messages going back and forth all the time. Then, after all that, people don’t look like their picture or aren’t the way they’ve presented themselves.”

The number six is a magic one because, according to experts in such matters, “if you’ve got four people it’s like being two couples, so you have a pressure there you don’t need. Eight is too many – and tends to split into two groups of four. Six is just right – everyone has a chance to get to know everyone else.”

Of course, some people have only one number in mind: two. So Table for Six has a sister service, called Intro-deuce, for people who want to move straight to the one-on-one stage of the process. “It’s for when people are really serious about finding the special person. They can be quite specific about what they want.”

Words by: Paul Little

Photo: Getty Images

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