Denver Business Journal – Husted: Playing the dating game with Kris Kenny, matchmaker for the well-to-do
Kris Kenny, 43, is Denver's matchmaker. If you have a lonely heart, she promises to get it the company it needs through her company, Kris Kenny Connections.
For $3,500 (six months) or $5,500 (12 months), she’ll study your profile and fix you up with a minimum of one date a month. She claims that 70 of her matches have resulted in marriages. At any given time, she has 115 to 150 clients looking for love -- with a database of more than 5,000 Denver singles.
Kenny was born and grew up in Chicago, then moved west for college at Colorado State University, graduating in 1995 with a degree in psychology. She moved to Denver to work in finance at Barclays, then on to San Francisco as an executive recruiter. That’s where this whole matchmaking thing began, joining employees with employers.
9/11 spelled the end of her finance career; she returned to Denver and found a job with Tables for 2, a national matchmaking service. She fell in love with it and in a few months started Kris Kenny Connections. That was 12 years ago.
She has a glass of white on the patio of Vinue Food and Wine Bar in Cherry Creek North, one of her go-to places to send dates.
photos © kathleen lavine | denver business journal
Bill Husted: Matchmaking. How does this process even begin?
Kris Kenny: It’s very personal. I interview everybody and make sure that they are a good fit for us and we’re a good fit for them. I do a criminal background check on everybody, and make sure they are divorced. This is a huge thing for my clients. And my clients are very private -- no last names are used, no place of employment. Sometimes we have pictures, but I try to stay away from them.
BH: You don't just fix up members with other members.
KK: No. I go to the database; I fix up members with anyone they might work out with. I can meet someone at a dinner party tonight and say, 'Hey, I just signed up this great gal yesterday, I think you should meet her.'
BH: It’s not cheap at $3,500 or $5,500. It’s sizable.
KK: It is. But to find someone you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, it’s really not that much. And compared to some of the service in New York and LA, I’m a bargain.
BH: What do you think of "The Millionaire Matchmaker" on TV?
KK: [Host Patti Stanger] is tough. I am a softy. I want people to feel good.
BH: Are you pretty good at matchmaking?
KK: I think I am really good at it.
BH: You fixed me up a couple of times and the dates were disasters.
KK: Well, you’re a little picky.
BH: What do you think of online services? Match and eHarmony and JDate?
KK: They serve a purpose. When someone is just out of a longterm relationship, they go there to get practice. It’s more of a hookup. That’s the feedback I get. I would say half of my clients get their feet wet with Match and the other half are scared of it. And then everyone gets frustrated and they call me.
BH: What about Facebook?
KK: I think Facebook is a lot of people digging for past relationships.
BH: How old are the people who come to you?
KK: From 29 to 64, the bulk being between 35 and 58.
BH: What’s the male/female ratio?
KK: It’s about 50-50.
BH: Do you ever turn people down?
BH: Because they’re too ugly?
K: No, no. If they don’t take good care of themselves, they probably wouldn’t be a good match for me. My clients are active. I don’t take smokers. They’re affluent. They love to travel. They’re foodies.
BH: What about your love life?
KK: I am divorced. I am single right now.
BH: Did you ever want to date one of your clients?
KK: Maybe. But I have never done it.
BH: What do you think of matchmaking in general?
KK: I feel I am very fortunate to get into this industry when I did. It has taken off and this industry is not going away. It’s an explosion out there every year.
BH: You have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, but there are some disgruntled clients on Yelp.
KK: Just like any business. I think I have a high satisfaction rating from my clients -- but there will always be someone who is unhappy because I didn’t find them the person of their dreams.
BH: Is Denver a good singles town?
KK: I think it’s great.
BH: You know what they say about the men here: The odds are good, but the goods are odd.
KK: That’s not true. The guys are great. And I think we have such beautiful women here. It’s a very athletic town, and that can be challenging in matching people. They are so into their road bikes and their jobs that they can’t find the time to have a relationship and make it a priority. That’s why people come to me. They just don’t have the time.
BH: Where do you sent people on dates?
KK: Here at Vinue. North, Cucina Colore, Root Down, Cherry Creek Grill is always fun and dark and cozy. Yoga dates. We’ve been doing a lot of sporting events and ski dates.
BH: Ski dates? That’s a long blind date.
KK: Not really. Say you ski from 2 to 3:30, then you après. It’s a great way to get to know someone.
BH: Do you ever set people up for dinner dates?
KK: No, but sometimes it moves into dinner.
BH: Or even a sleepover?
KK: Or getting on a jet for New York. Stranger things have happened.
BH: I think the minute you see someone on a blind date you know if you want to go out with her, before she says a word.
KK: That’s a man’s perspective. I think you should at least give a person five minutes.
BH: What makes you the expert?
KK: I love to talk to people, to hear their stories. I love meeting people.
BH: I have seen you work a bar, going from guy to guy in the Cherry Creek Grill.
KK: The Cherry Creek Grill is my stomping ground. It’s the No. 1 place I find men and women.
BH: Are you a romantic?
KK: Oh, I am such a lover. That’s why I am good at this. I am so happy when I get people together.
BH: So you don’t think that love is a rat hole?
KK: No. I think love is challenging and relationships are everyday work. It’s not easy. But I think there is someone out there, a lid for every pot. I believe that. I wouldn’t be doing this if I did not believe that.
BH: Have you ever had a broken heart.
KK: Yes. It took me six months to get over it. It was pretty bad. But when someone loses their significant other, by death or by choice, you have to let it go. You have to share your life with someone. It’s fun to travel with someone and go on cute trips and plan cute dinners.
BH: There are pleasures to being alone, too?
KK: OK, what are they?
BH: Do you believe in love at first sight?
KK: I do, but in this day and age you really have to get to know somebody. When you start talking to someone it can be “no bueno.”
BH: Is it hard for people to meet someone special?
KK: It is hard. Let’s say you’re recently divorced, 40 to 50, with younger kids. If you meet someone you have to find out if they have done the work or not done the work. If they have done the work, they’re more likely to be ready for a relationship.
BH: What do you mean "done the work"?
KK: The work. Some self-examination, staring at the mirror, therapy, reading some good books.
BH: What do you think about “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette”?
KK: They’re great. I mean, I don’t understand why anyone would go on a show like that. You couldn’t pay me.
BH: What’s your greatest fear?
KK: Being by myself.
BH: Greatest extravagance?
KK: High-end belts.
BH: What’s your favorite thing to do?
KK: Go to the park with my dog.
BH What’s your favorite sound?
KK: A running fan. I can’t sleep without a fan.
KK: I like to work out and I have to drink expensive wine.
BH: That’s not really a motto.
KK: Okay. “Life is friendlier with two.” Winnie-the-Pooh.
Bill Husted, former Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News columnist, interviews newsmakers for the Denver Business Journal. Contact Bill at 303-949-3675 or email@example.com.