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Top Alternatives to Online Dating in the San Francisco Bay Area

By Kati SchmidtSeptember 12, 2018SF Bay Area
alternatives to online dating in san francisco

Looking for alternatives to online dating in San Francisco?

Are you tired of swiping? Bored of sending the same “How are you?” and “What are you up to?” messages to strangers over and over again? Ashamed by setting up a date and canceling last minute because you are exhausted from work and have been on several dates this week already?

Or worse, have you been ghosted or stood up yourself? When going on a blind date did you ever learn that the other side is not who they say they were and in real life actually much shorter, just here on a business trip, or in a not so open relationship? While online dating exposes you to men and women outside of your own network, in reality the experience can be quite frustrating.

Was Dating Less Stressful for Previous Generations?

Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations must have had it much easier – they have been set up by their parents or neighbors, the choice of potential partners was quite limited and less overwhelming and they usually coupled up well before their biological clocks started ticking.

But how do we bring back the good old offline dating and meeting people in real life without being perceived as creepy when approaching someone in the street, at work or in a bar?

Enter Piña Colada!

Piña Colada brings dating back to real life by connecting groups of six like-minded singles over great food in San Francisco’s best restaurants. Piña Colada’s experience is almost completely offline, with the exception of filling out the initial matching survey which is based on the International Personality Item Pool Big-Five Factor Markers, developed by Goldberg (1992) – the best accepted and most commonly used model of personality in academic psychology. Based on their answers to our matching service, we invite six like-minded singles to a group dinner in one of our partner restaurants.

We choose our restaurant partners with care and ensure they align with our values and have a positive impact on the world. The Perennial’s mission is to reduce the carbon footprint of eating out by swapping out energy-hogging appliances and using recycled materials, setting up their own urban aquaponic farm, baking with Kernza, the only perennial grain on the market, and working with a carbon-friendly ranch.

Another partner, Commonwealth dedicates a share of their earnings to social causes. Part of the Commonwealth’s proceeds are being donated to the nonprofit organization Water For People.

You can go on a date organized by Piña Colada following a few simple steps:

  • Fill in a survey so we can match you with like-minded singles.
  • We will send you a dinner invite once we find great matches for you.
  • Secure your spot by submitting the payment.
  • On the day of the date we will send you a reminder and some info about the entire dinner party and the restaurant.
  • Have a great dinner!
  • Let us know who you’d like to be connected with afterwards.

In order to facilitate conversations amongst strangers, Piña Colada provides the entire group with conversation starters to break the ice, which are inspired by the famous 36 Questions That Lead to Love, a study developed by the psychologist Arthur Aron, such as:

  • Given the choice of anyone in the world, who do you want as a dinner date?
  • What is your specialty dish?
  • What book would you choose as a mandatory read for all high school students?
  • What is ‘home’ for you?
  • Where do you find inspiration?

Additionally, in the matching survey we ask each participant to submit conversation topics that we share with the group a few days before the date.

Piña Colada Welcomes Everyone

Our dinners are open for every age group, sexual orientation and interest. We have hosted dinners for all generations, for women who are interested in women, and for gay men. Our youngest user was born in 1996 and our oldest in 1951. The median age is 32 years. Women clearly embrace the concept of Piña Colada: Currently 63% of signed up users are female. Piña Colada is targeting singles in the San Francisco Bay Area.

79% of our users live in San Francisco, 12% in the East Bay, 7% in the South Bay and 2% in the North Bay. Our users are pretty healthy: 78% are non smokers, and out of our smokers only 3% smoke often.

According to their friends

  • 16% of our users are olympic athletes and only 3% are couch potatoes
  • 25% are workaholics who identify with their work while 12% are funemployed who work to live
  • 71% are collaborative while 12% are competitive
  • 44% are intellectual, 35% are practical and 15% are traditional
  • 55% are confident and 9% are reserved

The majority of our users describes themselves as rather communicative, interested in art, comfortable around strangers, taking care of others before taking care of themselves and relaxed most of the time.

When asked who they want as their dinner date given the choice of anyone in the world, 5% want to have dinner with both or one of the Obamas. When asked where they find inspiration, 23% answered in nature. When asked what they want to discuss with the other dinner guests, 22% answered travel.

How Does Piña Colada Compare to Dating Apps?

Piña Colada currently has a match rate of 30%, ie. 30% of romantic connection interests are mutual. In addition there have been clients that wanted to connect with everyone of their dinner party on a platonic level. According to Joey Bosworth from San Francisco “Piña Colada was SO much less awkward than swiping.

The group setting made it easy to break the ice, the food was delicious, and the conversation starters were a perfect touch.” Jen from Oakland agrees: “What a lovely evening! The food was delicious, the conversation flowed, and we all laughed and enjoyed one another’s company. Piña Colada executed a flawless and fun “blind date” experience. I would definitely do it again!”

Karen Datangel, a previous Piña Colada guest, has the following advice for Bay Area singles:

  • Try Piña Colada at least once. I think it’s a must-have experience when you’re living the single life on this part of the West Coast.
  • Go in with an empty stomach. Duh.
  • Talk about the Conversation Starters if no one else does. They’re fun!
  • Don’t feel pressured to make romantic connections — but you may click with your next workout partner, travel buddy, mentor, etc. Being open to all types of connections is key, not just for dating.
  • Enjoy the conversations, company, and food, and whatever happens after that will happen.

Ready For Your Second Date?

When you connect with someone at a Piña Colada group dinner date, take them on a second date 1:1. The San Francisco Bay Area has so much to offer:

  • An intimate concert at Stow Lake Boathouse in Golden Gate Park. The lake is also beautiful during the day and you can rent boats there.
  • An audio walk through your favorite neighborhood to learn more about the secrets and hidden gems of your hometown.
  • Visiting the Good Vibrations Vibrator Antique Museum.
  • Hiking up Twin Peaks to enjoy the sunset.
  • Eating your way through the Off the Grid street food vendors and sitting by the fire pits.
  • Singing along in the Castro Theatre.
  • A glass of wine at sunset on the ferry to Oakland.
  • Strolling around the Alameda flea and antique market. It’s held on the first Sunday of every month.
  • Visiting Alcatraz. Enjoy the ferry ride, listen to the fascinating audio tour narrated by former inmates and wards and stroll around the island’s beautiful national park. In summer tickets sell out quickly, so make sure to reserve them online.
  • Watching the improv show “Your Fucked Up Relationship” at Stage Werx on a Friday night.
  • For more second date ideas, checkout this article on the top 50 San Francisco date ideas.

Not a Foodie?

If you are seeking for alternatives to dating apps but are not a foodie, there are others activities in the San Francisco Bay Area where you might bump into someone who is right for you. Join one of the many hiking or running clubs like the San Francisco Road Runners Club or attend a meetup or eventbrite event around a topic or cause you care about.

Wrap Up: Dating in San Francisco from the Perspective of a Female Entrepreneur

Kati Schmidt has been single most of her life. As an early adopter of dating apps, she tried dating via OkCupid, Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge and Happn. While she met mostly interesting men, she did not enjoy the online dating experience of uploading selfies and sexy pictures, swiping and engaging in the same getting to know each other conversation over and over.

In 2014, together with her friend Katharina, she decided to take luck in love into their own hands and started organizing group dinner dates for themselves and their friends in Berlin’s best restaurants: Sauvage, Katz Orange and Clärchens Ballhaus. The events were very popular and word of mouth spread quickly – they even had to remind some friends that they could not attend while they were in a committed relationship.

Two years ago, after moving to San Francisco, Kati met her partner on Tinder. She considers herself lucky. She was not looking for a serious relationship but swiping out of curiosity. Kati remembers that his pictures were not great, they were old, blurry and showing a bunch of his friends. However, her now boyfriend mentioned he liked cooking Paella. That made her swipe right. After all, the way to the heart is through the stomach. It took a lot of back and forth until the two finally met. Looking back, the couple has been together for more than two years now and food is the common thread in their relationship.

Kati has many friends who are not that lucky. They sign up on any or all of the dating apps, they swipe, message and ask their matches out. It rarely works and she can tell you many horror stories…

With Piña Colada she wants to take the frustration out of dating and focus on the real life experience in a relaxed group setting. Piña Colada is inspired by the song Escape by Rupert Holmes.