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Java Drinkers Find Love Amid Latte

February 14, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Coffee Mate jars are displayed for purely symbolic reasons. The customers are ordering dates along with their cappuccino.

Welcome to Drip, a coffee bar on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that’s part personal ad, part living room, part singles bar for the caffeine crowd.

Customers can fill out questionnaires in which people describe themselves and their ideal mates. They are placed in notebooks, and if you find one that appeals to you, Drip’s staff sets up a date. It costs $10 to submit an ad, $5 to request a date.

``There’s something about the aura of Drip,″ said Amy Schwartzman, who will be spending Valentine’s Day on Martha’s Vineyard with a man she met through Drip.

They are engaged to be married this summer.

``You go there and you see people hanging out and you think, ’Oh, they’re like me,‴ she added.

Ms. Schwartzman’s fiance, Peter Brightbill, found her by leafing through the 22,000 personal ads on file at Drip. ``She was a dancer and a lawyer; I’m a playwright and a lawyer,″ Brightbill said. ``We just had a lot in common.″

Forty-five dates were scheduled on a recent Sunday afternoon.

Christina Dizebba, 28, a graduate student, was waiting for one of them.

``It’s a good way to meet new people,″ she said. ``And it feels safer and more comfortable than a personal ad from a newspaper.″

Drip is the brainchild of Nancy Slotnick, 31, a Harvard grad who used to work as a headhunter in the computer industry. She opened Drip because ``I felt like there weren’t enough interesting places to meet people.″

Drip has fostered dozens of serious romances since opening 2 1/2 years ago.

Alas, Ms. Slotnick has been so busy running Drip the last few years, she hasn’t had time to work on her own love life.

``I haven’t met the right person yet,″ she said, ``but I’m hoping to.″

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