But the contest on Instagram, which was almost like a crowd-sourced season of The Bachelor, was only half of the fun. At each of the three locations, the blind daters were welcomed with fresh flowers and served throughout by each Piada’s managing chef. They were seated at tables with white linen tablecloths, photographed by staged paparazzi, and enjoyed desserts from local eateries to cap off the night.
The idea for an overblown Valentine’s Day was inspired by another Columbus staple, White Castle, which lays out the white tablecloths each year on February 14. With the added romance that’s inherent in anything Italian, Piada of course had to turn it up a notch. But Miller says Piada’s fans have fully embraced the contest and its undeniable cheesiness.
“We know that going on Valentine’s dates to Piada is ridiculous and over the top and hilarious, and I think people are in on the joke. They get what we’re trying to do, they know we’re just having fun,” Miller says.
Of course, not everything from the contest is all fun and games. Each of the blind daters will also receive free Piada for a year, which, Miller admits, he thought would be the driving force behind singles applying to be chosen. But their applications were so in-depth, their convictions to be a Pinder single so clear, that the Piada staff couldn’t help but fall for each of the singles. Clearly, people were interested in more than just free pasta.
As for the blind daters, Miller had some simple advice.
“Have an open mind, have fun, don’t take it seriously,” he says. “And you never know what’s going to happen.”
That’s true for both the couples and for Piada. Miller says the brand is always trying to keep things fresh, and that if Pinder were to return in 2019, there would be some fresh new tweaks to the system.
For now, though, it’s all about the Pinder-picked Valentine sweethearts of this year. Miller says the dates went well, too—and that if there are wedding bells in the future, Piada might have to be a part of the couple tying the knot.
“If they do get married,” Miller says. “I’ll totally cater their wedding.”