Rom-Com Tropes

Wingmen required: Grouper sets up three-on-three blind dates at local bars — and it works

Wingmen required: Grouper sets up three-on-three blind dates at local bars — and it works

Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_grouper_Sept 2012_site
Grouper sets up three guys and three girls (or three guys and three guys, etc.) on a blind date at a local bar and let's them loose.  Courtesy of Grouper
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_grouper_Sept 2012_michael waxman
CEO Michael Waxman founded Grouper in the summer of 2011 in New York City. It debuted in Dallas in September.  Courtesy of Grouper
Kung Fu Saloon in Dallas
For $20, Grouper sends you and your wingmen to meet your other threesome at a bar like Kung Fu Saloon. The $20 fee also includes a round of drinks. Kung Fu Saloon/Facebook
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_grouper_Sept 2012_site
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_grouper_Sept 2012_michael waxman
Kung Fu Saloon in Dallas

It’s full-on Cuffing Season right now, if you were unaware. With the cold weather slowly rolling into Dallas, those carefree summer attitudes are being replaced with hot chocolate, pumpkin patches and finding someone who actually enjoys pumpkin patches.

I wasn’t looking at Cuffing Season as anything that significant, but my colleague, Rachael Abrams, mentioned that one of her friends had done this new group dating site called Grouper. She said that her friend had a good time.

Then she asked me if I was seeing anyone.

 If you have two friends with you, then it lowers the risks. This is when Grouper goes from “Internet dating” to meeting new people and getting drunk.

Psh, I see tons of people on TV every night, Rachael. But it got me thinking — Grouper might be worth checking out.

It’s a gloriously simple set-up: You connect your Facebook to Grouper and fill out a few preferences on age; what kind of nightlife scene you prefer; and what kind of experience you want, ranging from hook-up to finding “the one.”

Then Grouper sets you up on a date with someone else in the database. The twist is that each person brings along two wingmen for the party. Because if you have two friends with you, then it lowers the risks and lessens the opportunity for awkward silence.

This is when Grouper goes from “Internet dating” to meeting new people and getting drunk.

I put the call out to a group of friends to see who would be interested. Of the six I contacted, all of them were up for it — even the ones with girlfriends.

Grouper didn’t tell me anything about the other group other than two truths and a lie that my match wrote. I was given a date, told to get my wingmen assembled and then wait.

The night before the Grouper (the company avoids the word “date”), I received a text from Lexi, Grouper’s logistics person, telling me that I would be meeting “Sarah” and her wingwomen at Bryan Street Tavern at 8 pm.

 We figured the worst that could happen was we would have a couple of drinks and part ways.

We’ve already noted that BST is one of our favorite bars, especially for its Thursday night happy hour with $2 wells. Well, would you look at that? We were going on a Thursday.

Theories were abounding about just what kind of women we would meet. After all, this was still a blind date — and not even one set up by a mutual friend but a website. Still, everyone was optimistic. We figured the worst that could happen was we would have a couple of drinks with some strangers and part ways.

We were a few minutes late to the bar, because one of the wingmen forgot to put his clothes in the dryer before work, so he had to scramble to fit into his still-damp pants. We were a little out of sorts when we got there.

We were instructed to go up to the bartender and tell him we were with Grouper and there to meet our other party. There’s also a round of drinks included in the $20 you pay Grouper.

But BST’s bartenders had no idea what Grouper was, so we just kind of stood there at the bar awkwardly sipping our Shiners, trying to spot a threesome of girls that looked like they were lost too.

After a few minutes, we noticed some girls also awkwardly standing there looking around. We made eye contact.

 The Grouper was the least awkward three-on-three meeting of strangers we’ve experienced.

“Sarah” and her friends were all UT graduates three years older than we are. At first, it seemed like the age gap might be a road bump, but there’s this thing called alcohol.

We found out we had some mutual acquaintances, and the fact that five of us had gone to Texas meant there was plenty to talk about. Our outcast wingman who went to Notre Dame just kind of nodded along as we talked about Cain & Abel's and Lake Austin.

We won’t get into too much detail about the Grouper itself except to say that it was the least awkward three-on-three meeting of strangers we’ve experienced. The girls were funny, cute and really competitive at shuffleboard.

We ended up staying at BST for nearly four hours, making those $2 wells count, and then we moved the party to Katy Trail Ice House to shut down the night.

The next morning, as I was contemplating putting an ice pick through my skull, I received a text message from one of my wingmen: “Don’t know about you, but I’m about to go to work smelling like a bar mat.” My other wingman was two hours late to work.

So, good job Grouper. We’re still a free agent for Cuffing Season, but we met three people in Dallas that we didn’t know before, and we had a great time doing it. Not bad for a blind date. 

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