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If you’re a busy single person with a disposable income, there just might be a solution to your dating woes.
Mervyn Bunter, an online dating concierge service, is here to help narrow down potential matches and take the “online” out of online dating. That is, if you have $2,000 per month to burn.
“It’s a service for people who want to settle down,” founder Anthony Recenello told the Daily Dot. “The people paying me, they’re not paying me to get laid. They could find ways to do that if they wanted to.”
Mervyn Bunter is an outgrowth of Wolf & Garden, a startup that Recenello refers to as a “social development program.” Wolf & Garden helps men develop their networking and dating skills, and many of Recenello’s clients complained about being too busy for the swiping and banal chatter that comes with the territory of online dating.
“Some of them were saying indirectly, ‘I wish you could just give me a date, so I could start a relationship. I don’t even have time to go to the bars. I have zero time in my life,'” Recenello said. “So I thought, ‘Why don’t I create something like that?’”
Despite its steep price tag, Mervyn Bunter isn’t intended to exclude the non-monied or the rest of the 99 percent. Recenello says he just wants to help clients sort through a seemingly endless sea of potential suitors to find them the perfect match. Basically, if you’re willing to pay, then Mervyn Bunter will make it happen.
Here’s how it works: Clients must first consent to a background check. They then meet with Recenello so he can determine whether they’re “there for the right reasons,” as Bachelor contestants would say.
“When I interview a potential Mervyn Bunter client, I try to see if they’re the type of person that men and women would like,” Recenello said. He gets a feel for the person, their sense of humor, whether they’re an introvert or extrovert, and if there’s a beating heart inside the businessman or woman.
“Sometimes people are so focused on success, that it seems like there’s not a person behind it.”
Once a client is admitted, they’re assigned to a Mervyn Bunter concierge who’ll help them every step of the way, setting up their dating profiles and managing their dates. Mervyn Bunter even helps with the seemingly impossible task of helping select the perfect profile photo. At the first meeting, a professional photographer snaps some shots, and then members are invited to a cocktail party for the purpose of taking “candids.”
Are these steps a natural, necessary part of the online dating process? Probably not. But are they useful? Definitely.
Clients are given monthly one-on-one coaching sessions with Recenello himself, and he even brings in “test dates” for clients who have been out of the game for so long that they need to brush up on their people skills. He also provides them with a new haircut, as well as a shopping spree with a stylist.
Then the concierge gets to work, perusing any combination of Match.com, eHarmony, OkCupid and, yes, Tinder, to see who might work for the client. It’s like Expedia, except for dates instead of hotels and flights.
So who’s actually doing the matching for Mervyn Bunter? Recenello says that right now, his matchmaking team consists of a few stay-at-home moms. The process might not be scientific, but who knows what’s best for you better than a mom?
So far, Mervyn Bunter’s matchmakers have been contacting potential dates by sending them online messages, which say that they’re reaching out on behalf of a Mervyn Bunter client. While you might be creeped out by the prospect of receiving a message in your inbox from an anonymous “matchmaker,” Recenello says that so far, potential matches have been fairly receptive.
“Before I started this service, I was weary of how people would respond,” Recenello admitted. “But it’s so weird because it really actually works.”
From there, the concierge arranges a date, sending a calendar invite to both parties. At this point, Mervyn Bunter’s work is done. It’s up to the daters to make it happen.
“I’m really big on meeting face to face,” Recenello said. “I’m trying to make face-to-face easier for people who don’t have time to go out and meet people.”
Haircuts and personal stylists aside, will busy singles be willing to shell out $2,000 for a service that uses online matchmaking to facilitate face-to-face interactions, the same way Tinder and OkCupid do? Probably not.
But Recenello, who has the spirit of Yente the matchmaker trapped in the body of a 30-year-old, wants Mervyn Bunter to be “the gold standard for eligible singles in New York City.” And it just might be, if the singles are willing to pony up the gold.
Photo via Wolf & Garden
Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.