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Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 6 years ago

Looking for love in all the wrong places: Sarasota's hidden matchmaker

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by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

Is hitting the dance floor not your idea of a first date? If R. Kelly taught us anything, it’s that there’s nothing wrong with a little bump and grind, but a first meeting that involves Jaeger bombs and pickup lines isn’t exactly the cornerstone of a successful relationship. Also, you should probably stop taking dating advice from R. Kelly.

More often than not, when it comes to dating, we find our best matches when we’re not actively seeking them, which is why one neighborhood bar has earned a reputation as one of the best matchmakers in town. Yes, even better than Tinder.

As its bartenders and regular customers will tell you, the Shamrock Pub’s come-as-you-are vibe and no-pressure atmosphere seems to have mysterious, Cupid-like abilities.

Jessica McCrae, a Shamrock regular since 2010, remembers meeting her boyfriend of more than a year, Sebastian Massey, at the bar.

“We ran in similar circles,” she says. “We always seemed to be in the same place with our groups of friends, and we met one night at the Shamrock. I don’t know if it’s the way the bar is set up so narrowly or if it’s the atmosphere they create, but it’s really easy to meet people from a different group and start a conversation.”

After a few months of seeing each other out, the couple knew they’d found a connection on the 4th of July, when they joined a small group of friends from the Shamrock to watch the bayfront fireworks outside the bar.

“We always joke that we totally give Shamrock the credit for our relationship,” she says.

Erica Elliott, a bartender, says not only has she seen the bar’s powers in action, she also fell victim to them herself. She met her boyfriend, Tyler Caswell, a regular customer, when he used to come in several times a week after work.

“He was new to town, and I had recently moved here, too, so when he would come in, we would talk,” she says. “He always ordered a Harp, and after a few months, he came in and asked for a Harp and a date.”

Fellow bartender Annie Stone, says it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what creates the bar’s matchmaking vibe, but that it’s a combination of a lot of different things.

“Our whole goal is to make everyone feel at home,” she says. “The staff is a big part of that, but so are the customers. It’s kind of a mystery — but it’s a good mystery.”

Test out the bar's reputation for yourself at 9 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 14, at the Lost Lovers Show, featuring live music by Good Graeff and Say Monster

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