Few things are quite as nerve-racking as a first date. After you’ve gone to all the trouble of getting ready — showering, shaving, configuring the perfect outfit, etc. — the last thing you want to do is head to some stuffy restaurant, or anywhere else that you won’t be comfortable. Or even some place that will drain your bank account.
According to research from popular dating app Clover, it looks like people are starting to forego some of the nicer formalities for a more casual approach, and meeting up for their first dates in a much more comfortable, familiar setting — like coffee shops, or casual restaurants.
By analyzing data from more than 200,000 of its users, Clover was able to find out a lot about where, and how, first dates are taking place. Not only did the company’s analysts figure out what locations people prefer, but also some interesting factual nuggets like the fact that no matter what age group we’re looking at, people love Starbucks. About 51% of people prefer to meet at a restaurant, and 31% at coffee shops. Interestingly enough, women prefer coffee shops much more so than men.
While Clover compiled an extensive list of 30 businesses that pull in a lot of first-date traffic, we’re going to condense it down to the top five for you. Of course, you should check out all of them when you get a chance at Clover’s blog. But for now, read on to see the top five.
5. Texas Roadhouse
When you want to impress your date, how better than by taking them to a quintessential American icon like Texas Roadhouse? With its fun, laid-back atmosphere, Texas Roadhouse apparently has a lot of appeal for first-daters, with fun and interesting dishes like Rattlesnake Bites, as well as classic burgers and country dishes. Of course, you’ll have to make sure you don’t get any barbecue sauce on your nice clothes, but getting messy may just be part of the fun and appeal.
4. The Cheesecake Factory
If Texas Roadhouse isn’t quite your thing — and let’s face it, for a lot of people, that’s probably the case — then how about a quieter, more sugar-heavy outing? The Cheesecake Factory is the perfect place, as it is slightly upscale, yet casual at the same time. There are plenty of menu directions to choose from, and naturally, nothing helps finish the night off like a slice of cheesecake. Maybe you can learn more about your date by which type they choose? Just be sure not to overdo it, as nothing can ruin a night quicker than slipping into a diabetic coma.
3. Panera Bread
On the more casual end of things, Panera Bread is quickly becoming a popular choice not only to grab a sandwich or cup of coffee, but also to sit down and get to know someone new. Panera Bread isn’t quite a coffee shop, and it isn’t quite a deli or bakery either. It lands somewhere in between, and manages to have an atmosphere that is perfect for those looking to develop a deeper connection. Nobody said first dates need to be fancy, and a trip to Panera Bread, or a similar restaurant, may be the perfect setting to feel someone out.
If there is one big surprise in the top five, it may be Chipotle. That’s not a knock against Chipotle, per se, but it’s interesting to think that so many couples on a first date would be willing to scarf down an infant-sized burrito, loaded with beans and meats of all kinds, while simultaneously trying to be as impressive as possible. Still, perhaps the idea of sharing some chips and salsa in a casual atmosphere is the appeal, rather than going straight for the queso or carnitas? Either way, it’s interesting that Chipotle has managed to become such a hit among first-daters, and goes to show that they’re definitely doing something right in producing a welcoming atmosphere.
It may come as no surprise, but if there’s one place first-daters are headed to in droves, it’s Starbucks. It’s quiet, comfortable, and laid back, and for many people, a very familiar setting in which to get to know your prospective partner a little better. Not only that, but Starbucks seems to be aware that it’s become the defacto meeting place for just such occasions, and has even rolled out an advertising campaign that drives the point home by stating “meet me at Starbucks.”
As for the rest of the businesses on the list, check out the infographic below, or again, visit Clover’s blog.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger