‘Mystery’ will plan a surprise Seattle date for you — the only requirement is trust
Last Tuesday night I climbed into a Lyft, with absolutely no idea where it would take me. My boyfriend and I were on a date courtesy of Mystery, a Seattle start-up that sends you on a multi-destination adventure where every stop is a complete surprise. Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at a dance studio. The Mystery app revealed that we had an hour-long private lesson.
“Mystery is a night out that you don’t have to plan, where you don’t know where you’re going until you get there,” said co-founder and CEO Shane Kovalsky. “You sign up online, you tell us what you like, what you don’t like, and then an actual person will look at your preferences, plan an entire night out in the city for you, two to four stops, always inclusive of an experience of some kind and a restaurant of some kind. You get in a car and you have no idea where you’re going until you get there.”
The process starts on their website where you answer a series of questions. Do you drink alcohol? Are you an adrenaline junkie? Do you enjoy learning new skills? Do you like being outdoors?
Then you pick a date and time and let them know where a car can pick you up. A Mystery concierge will communicate with you through their app, alerting you that a car is on its way and revealing your next destination once you’re on your way.
“Twenty-four hours before we’ll say, ‘hey, here’s the basic attire that you need to wear,'” said Kovalsky. “We’ll also give you an idea of when you’re going to eat. If we have you eating at five o’clock versus eight o’clock, people get a little hangry. So it’s figuring out the right time, knowing how much you should snack.”
Despite the destinations being a mystery, Kovalsky says people are introduced to a restaurant or activity they’ve never been to 85 percent of the time.
“People go to the same four or five restaurants all the time. People live in their own little bubble in Seattle and there are so many amazing places. And we have people saying all the time, ‘Oh, I know all the restaurants, you’re never going to find somewhere new.’ It’s shockingly easy to find a new place someone hasn’t been to.”
Kovalsky doesn’t want to reveal too many of their secrets, but past dates include a trapeze class, glassblowing, and a sake tasting in the International District.
After our dance class, we changed into our dinner clothes and a car picked us up. We were dropped off in the Mount Baker neighborhood, on a street I’d never visited before. The app buzzed and revealed the restaurant where we’d be having dinner. I actually shrieked with delight; it was a place I’d been wanting to visit for quite a while, in a part of town I rarely visit. We were seated at the chef’s counter with a beautiful view of the Seattle skyline.
The activities you do and restaurants you visit depend on how much you want to spend.
“We have four different budget points that you can sign up for. On average, people spend in the $100-$150 budget, per person, for a night out,” said Kovalsky
I met Heather (no last name), a self-described “Mystery fanatic,” after our dance class. She discovered the studio on a Mystery date and had such a good time, despite her fear of dancing in public, that she signed up for regular classes with her partner.
“We’ve been on at least six Mystery dates since February, so we do them regularly. I bring my kids, my mom, my boyfriend, anyone I know. They’re really fun. I just have to push a couple buttons and then my weekend is planned without any effort and it’s always super amazing. I love the adventure.” ”
Like Heather said, it doesn’t have to be a romantic date. Mystery has also done team outings for co-workers, but prefers to keep the group to no more than eight people.
For our last stop of the night, a car dropped us off outside a speakeasy that required we ring a bell to be let inside. We were sitting at the dim bar, watching the bartender shake icy, craft cocktails full of exotic ingredients when our Mystery concierge sent us a final message: We could use the app to call a car whenever we were ready to head home.
Not bad for a Tuesday night.