Photo by Angie Gray
Who are Delaware’s best catches? Meet these date-worthy First Staters, as nominated by readers, who are ready for romance this year.
While some have dabbled in online dating during the COVID-19 pandemic, others say they’ve put their romantic life on hold for the moment. We talked to them about their likes and dislikes, and how they hope to meet their ideal partner amid our new normal.
John Drury, 35
Contractor, Dewey Beach
Zodiac sign: Virgo
Born and raised on a horse farm in Sussex County, John Drury grew up cultivating a love for animals and the outdoors. A contractor by trade, he’s been bartending during the pandemic while day work has been slow. When he’s not earning a living, he’s keen on living a life of excitement. “Playing rugby, hiking and kayaking are some my favorite hobbies,” says Drury, who would like to find a partner who shares his love of adventure. If there’s one silver lining that’s come from COVID-19, it’s forcing first dates outside. “I’ve taken women crabbing and clamming,” he says, “and would love to go kayaking on a date.” He’s also a family man who enjoys trail riding with his mom on weekends and playing with his young nieces and nephews. Dad to a rescue dog, Drury hopes to expand his own crew in a house he plans to buy or build this year.
Best attribute: I’m compassionate.
Best date spot: La Fable in Rehoboth.
Favorite holiday: Fourth of July—warm weather, friends, family and cookouts.
The ideal partner: She’s smart, kind and goofy. She’ll enjoy traveling—Santorini and Bali are on my list—as much as she enjoys staycations.
Ryan Zinn, 44
Real estate broker, Wilmington
Zodiac sign: Sagittarius
Focused largely on residential real estate, Ryan Zinn recently earned her broker’s license and is looking to further diversify her expertise. “It is rewarding to help people find a home that they love,” she says. She also loves the flexibility her career affords—spending time with her two daughters and attending their school sports games, as well enjoying friends, travel, new adventures and pastimes like playing tennis, biking, hiking and surfing. “I love being outside,” she says. She’s also passionate about food and music—she comes from a musically inclined family, including a father who was a music professor—and she hopes to find someone who leads an equally active and adventurous life.
The perfect partner: He’s got integrity, he’s kind, intelligent and has depth. I also appreciate a witty personality.
Together, we’d: Work hard and play hard, regularly travel, and grow and evolve together in a relationship built on mutual respect and love.
Best date spot: I like the ambiance at Torbert Street Social for drinks. I love all of the newer options on Market Street for great dinners. I’ve had one of the best dinners at the House of William & Merry. We are really lucky to have so much to choose from.
Pros and cons of dating in a small state: Finding the two degrees of separation is always interesting to me, but that same two degrees of separation factor can mean that there is little hope for quietly dating anyone.
Pet peeve: Lack of consideration for others, like not holding the door for the person behind you. The “me-centric” attitude that has become so prevalent.
Bill Everett, 53
Work-based learning specialist/small business owner, Wilmington
Zodiac sign: Capricorn
When he’s not busy with work and school—he connects students with career opportunities for a living and is also currently earning his doctorate in educational leadership—Bill Everett likes a different kind of challenge. The New Castle native is a born athlete who competes in distance runs and obstacle courses like the Savage and Spartan races. Preferring to to meet romantic partners organically, he’s found COVID-19 to be an awkward time. “Where do you start the conversations now…‘So, mask, no mask?’” he chuckles. Craving a healthy work-life balance, he enjoys a partner who also “puts as much energy into having fun” as she does her career. Other hobbies include spending time with friends and collecting vintage vinyl albums (Bob Dylan’s Highway 51 Revisited and the Beatles’ Help are two favorites).
On values: I prefer women that value things that are theirs, such as a group of friends, an activity or moments to themselves. It is important, because many of those things make a partner who they are and who I am interested in because of those things.
Best attribute: I have a positive disposition and a good sense of humor.
A charming quirk: Humor that comes from my way of seeing the world. It doesn’t always make sense to others.
Worst habit: Dropping all of my shoes right at the front door. It drives me nuts.
A perfect first date: A good hike, a relaxing lunch and an outdoor event, such as a concert in the park, on a nice day. Something that allows great conversation and challenges us to be comfortable with each other.
Natalie Di Sabatino, 32
Community affairs specialist, Wilmington
Zodiac sign: Taurus
A born giver, Natalie Di Sabatino is dedicated to bettering her community professionally and personally. The Delaware native first took care of children and cancer patients as a nursing student, and today serves the entire state through her role at Discover, from corporate giving to employee volunteerism. “The thing I love most about Delaware is the down-homeness—we are considered a northern state but have a Southern mentality where everyone really tries to take care of one another,” she says. Wanting to one day be a foster parent—her own parents fostered two children before having her—she’s always looking to give back, and hopes to find a partner who is too. A bit of a foodie, Di Sabatino loves cooking and shares her culinary passion by teaching at a summer camp for children with cancer.
Cooking up traditions: I’ve been making our family Thanksgiving dinner for over a decade. It’s a tradition I started with my grandmother. I start planning in the summer—I love thinking about all of the décor and really try to make it an experience.
The perfect partner: Someone who matches my drive and is supportive of it. And he loves trying to new foods.
Together, we’d: Host game nights, dinner parties or brunch with our friends and family.
Best COVID-19 date: I’ve had several first dates on FaceTime and Zoom. I’ve invited some to the virtual trivia nights that I’ve hosted, so that’s worked out a little bit better with an activity. When the weather was nice, I also went hiking, had picnics, visited the dog park and enjoyed local breweries.
Magical trait: I have a talent for finding four-leaf clovers. I’ve been able to spot them since I was young.
Happiest when: I love driving and enjoy jumping in the car and just seeing where I end up.
George Tsakataras, 49
Family law attorney, Wilmington
Zodiac sign: Libra
Some people are born givers, and George Tsakataras is one of them. The Delaware native has dedicated his career to helping those in need, having served as the state’s deputy attorney general in the Family Division in the domestic violence and child protection units. He now focuses on family law in his private practice and would like to one day return to the State of Delaware in a position of service. With deep roots in the community, Tsakataras’ good deeds extend outside the office. Among other things, he’s long been involved in his parish council and even took over Sunday school classes from his mother who taught for over thirty years. Many of his friends’ children are now among his pupils and he hopes one day to have children of his own.
The Philly sports fan is also a lover of the arts who enjoys a gallery exhibition as much as a live show at The Queen. He even wrote a music review column for The News Journal at one point. “Some of my favorite art has elements of social justice,” he says.
The idea partner: She’s intelligent, kind, fun, considerate, independent and family oriented.
Perfect first date: A good meal, easy conversation, laughter, connection, chemistry…and losing track of time.
Best attributes: I’m calm in a crisis, a good communicator, respectful and fair.
Where are you most happy? In a room full of friends and family who are enjoying themselves.
Dream destination: I met a couple coming back from Paris who said they take two months every year and live there. In retirement, I would love to pick a place and do that—and to see all of Greece.
Heather Dougherty, 49
Hospital CAT scan technologist; owner, Dougherty Photo Designs, Wilmington
Zodiac sign: Aquarius
An easygoing person, Heather Dougherty loves spending time at the beach, especially in Rehoboth, where her family has a place and her sons like surfing at the Inlet. While they play in the waves, Dougherty enjoys kicking back with a book, swimming, Jet-Skiing or boating. This laid-back lifestyle is a stark contrast to her career. An art major at the University of Delaware, she ended up in a surprising field—radiology—where she enjoys the visual aspect and connecting with patients. Simultaneously following her passion for the arts, the self-taught photographer also launched her own studio a decade ago. Her love of electronic dance music isn’t necessarily laid-back either, but “It’s something I’ve listened to since my 20s,” she says. “I’m young at heart.” With a tight-knit group of friends, Dougherty is looking for a partner who shares her ambition but is also friendly and low-key. It wouldn’t hurt if he was tall, matching her own height.
The ideal partner: You just have a comfort when you first meet somebody, and I’m into easy conversation and a good connection. I would like them to have a good network of friends and family.
Together, we’d: Be best of friends, travel, explore, laugh, trust and be spontaneous.
Biggest pet peeve: Slow drivers in the left lane.
Five people she’d invite to a dinner party: Frank Lloyd Wright, Robert Smith, Annie Leibovitz, Georgia O’Keeffe and Becki Owens. I want everybody to have something in common. Becki Owens is a fantastic interior designer—I’ve been really into interior design lately. I’m a fan of modern and midcentury design, like that of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Dream destination: I’ve always been interested in Greek mythology and the Egyptian times. When I was a lot younger, I thought I wanted to be an archaeologist. I’d love to see Greece—the history, the architecture, the culture, the beautiful beaches.
Alexandria ‘Alex’ Pyle, 28
Paraprofessional in a pre-K autism classroom/horseback riding instructor, Wilmington
Zodiac sign: Capricorn
Outside of the classroom, where she draws deep fulfillment from helping tots with autism, Alex Pyle is happiest being outdoors—teaching kids how to ride, spending time with her own horse, running or hiking with Scout, a lab mix she rescued from House of Hope. The Wilmington native hopes to find a partner whose passion for animals and nature matches hers, and who is also confident and has a good sense of humor. Ideally, they’d enjoy life in the country with their pets and maybe a few children (“While I do not want to have kids of my own, I would be open to adopting,” Pyle says), as well as traveling abroad.
Where do you typically meet dates? Through mutual friends and online.
Best attribute: I am a very loyal and caring friend.
A quirk that people generally find charming: I am always finding the humor in ordinary things.
Five people you’d invite to a dinner party: My favorite comedians—Beth Stelling, Bo Burnham, Nikki Glaser, Andrew Collin and Bridget Everett.
Rooster or night owl? Morning person.
Together, you’d travel to: South Africa.
Dandridge Myles, 49
Executive director in financial intelligence, Wilmington
Zodiac sign: Cancer
With dual degrees in accounting and law, Dandridge Myles uses her investigative skills to uncover fraud and other financial schemes. A former special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, she was among the people tracing terrorist bank fraud used in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now she works in the private sector as a financial investigator. Outside of work, she’s not so serious. When she’s not spending time with her young daughter, she enjoys home-remodeling projects, learning new languages, traveling and tango dancing.
Next travel destination? Argentina. I can practice my tango.
The ideal partner: He’s multifaceted, kind and open-minded. I’m looking for a helpmate, a person who is going to make my world and my life bigger. He’s honorable, upfront and can take me as I am.
A fun date entails: A really nice dinner—at home. I’m down-to-earth. I like to hang out together with other people, and I enjoy having people over.
Best attribute: I’m very insightful. I’m a really good listener and in doing that, I help people figure out what they want for themselves.
Cat or dog person? We have four cats and a dog. We’re an animal-friendly house.
Eric Anderson, 38
Advertising account executive, Wilmington
Zodiac sign: Scorpio
After working in the banking industry for several years, Eric Anderson transitioned into advertising—a better fit for his outgoing personality. “I’m a people person,” says the lifelong Delawarean. While he’s built relationships in businesses and socially, he’s still looking for a romantic partner. Ideally, that someone has similar interests, is adventurous and enjoys being outdoors. On most weekends you’ll find Anderson exploring local trails with friends or Ellie, his Portuguese water dog. His love of the outdoors dates back to his Boy Scout days and hiking trips he went on with his father, and has taken him as far as the West Coast. He’d one day like to return to Yosemite and Zion national parks.
City or country? I like being close to the action in the city but also escaping in nature. So, a city that’s close to the mountains or the beach.
Favorite holiday: Halloween. I love how everyone dresses up in costumes and the fun parties, and I also enjoy trick-or-treating with my nieces and nephews.
Happiest when: I’m listening to music, out in nature, or hanging out with my family.
On dating during a pandemic: To stay safe, I’ve stuck to outdoor dates—like hiking, beer gardens, outdoor comedy shows, Longwood Gardens, Hagley and the Go Ape course at Lums Pond State Park.
Five people I’d invite to a dinner party: Lana Del Rey, Bill Murray, Seth Rogen, Bill Maher and Nikki Glaser. Lana Del Rey is beautiful, a great songwriter, and I just love her style. She’s also a great poet. The others are funny comedians that are just hilarious.
Dream travel destination: Switzerland, because there are so many beautiful lakes and mountains. I would definitely want to do some hiking and go paragliding.
Kristina Francis, 38
Conflicts coordinator, Wilmington
Zodiac sign: Libra
When Kristina Francis isn’t busy working—she does due diligence, serving as a conflicts coordinator for a law firm—she loves spending time with her family and friends, especially dining out, and attending festivals, charity events and concerts. The Delaware native is also a oenophile, noting Penns Woods Winery in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, as a local favorite. Enjoying a glass of prosecco or cabernet sauvignon is her perfect way to unwind after a hectic day. Last year, Francis took up solo-travel adventures, visiting London and Paris, and can’t wait to return to Europe to see Italy’s Lake Como. She also loves a good laugh (and who doesn’t?), with Trevor Noah and Dave Chappelle as two favorites. Having a partner with a great sense of humor is a must. “It makes someone a lot more attractive when they have a happy-go-lucky personality,” she says, “but also know when to be serious and how to communicate.”
The ideal partner: I hope to find someone who has their life together. Family and friends are important to him. He’ll introduce me to new things. He loves to travel and is a good communicator.
Best date spot: Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Wilmington. After a date, you can walk around the trail. If I’m dating someone in Philadelphia, it’s a good meeting point.
A perfect first date: Something competitive, like bowling. It’s a fun way to break the ice.
Worst habit: Nail biting.
Five people she’d invite to a dinner party: Michael Jackson, Prince, Freddie Mercury, Elton John, Homer Simpson—all legends I love so much. I thought of Homer Simpson because I love The Simpsons and Family Guy, and I know Homer Simpson is a huge fan of music too, so I thought it’d be a cool dinner.
Kerry Gregory, 46
Physician assistant, plastic and reconstructive surgery, Middletown
Zodiac sign: Gemini
Kerry Gregory always knew she’d pursue medicine. “One of the most important things we can do in our lives is serve other people, and I have the opportunity to do that minute to minute in my career,” she says. “I just love being able to make a difference in people’s lives.” She’s now finishing her doctorate in organizational leadership, with the goal of improving the well-being of healthcare workers. While Gregory loves her work at a cancer center, she also enjoys travel. “I really love exploring a different culture,” she says, adding that a trip to Iceland was among her recent favorites. She tries to take two or three trips a year; some are simply to unwind, others are for exploring. She hopes a future partner will also enjoy experiencing different cultures and be “outgoing and willing to try new things.”
The ideal partner: He’s a gentleman, is intelligent and a good communicator. I’ve learned that one of the most important things is that you’re able to communicate—share the things that you need, talk about your hopes and goals and future plans—and be sure that you’re aligned. He also has to be able to laugh things off and not take things so seriously.
Best date spot: Anywhere near the water. I love the beach so much—it’s the most beautiful and peaceful place in the world, and it hits all the senses—so having some drinks on the water or going for a nice walk on the boardwalk and talking.
Dog or cat person? I have a rescue dog, Maggie.
Best holiday: Easter, because it represents hope and new beginnings. Plus, flowers are blooming and there are jelly beans and Reese’s peanut butter eggs.
Dream destination: Sweden—they have ice castles, and I have got to check one of those out.
Jeff Matyger, 39
Director of culinary for a dining group , Middletown
Zodiac sign: Pisces
Initially pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, Jeff Matyger found his true calling in a hobby. Matyger started teaching himself to cook and “fell in love with it.” So he enrolled in a culinary program in Northern Italy, where he honed his skills. “There’s something about being over a stove and just bringing things together and kind of creating something that is very peaceful, but also exciting,” he says. After a number of years in Manhattan, the Delaware native came home. When he’s not cooking or spending time with family, Matyger is on the links. He hopes a future partner shares some of his interests, which also include travel. He’d like to explore his grandmother’s native Sicily, as well as the cooler climes (and golf courses) of Ireland and Scotland.
Best place to find a date: During the pandemic, online. But I don’t think I’ve ever been the type to just walk up to somebody randomly at a grocery store and just try to spark a conversation.
The ideal partner: She’s kind and compassionate, and has an interest in food. She’s looking for someone who is laid-back.
A great first date: Maybe dinner or a drink, somewhere there can be good, uninterrupted conversation. In this day and age, especially with online dating, there’s a whole lot of email and text messaging before you actually meet, but chemistry is still chemistry and you have to have that.
Worst habit: I tend to be a little bit of a workaholic. I’ve gotten better in the last year, but I definitely have to check myself.
Superpowers: I have a pretty crazy memory. It’s not a photographic memory, but it’s almost like déjà vu where if I’m in a similar situation, things will jog my memory to the point where I can remember the conversation I had with someone and the details from a year or two ago.
Carlous Howell, 48
Respiratory therapist and polysomnographic technologist, Milford
Zodiac sign: Aquarius
“I try to see the good in everybody,” says Carlous Howell. After suffering an accident that required lung surgery and rehabilitation, he decided to reinvent his career and become a respiratory therapist, both to learn more about his own health and assist those in need. At the ventilator clinic, Howell aims to put a smile on his patients’ faces by singing and dancing—he doesn’t do either well, he says, but patients enjoy it. A father of four, he loves spending time with his kids. He’s also a Green Bay Packers fan who tries to catch every game. Known to some as the food connoisseur of Sussex County, Howell enjoys cooking and the local dining scene; during his “Touring Tuesdays,” he visits five or so restaurants and shares his experiences on social media. Howell hopes a future partner will share his sense of adventure—for food and life.
Best date spot in Delaware: 14 Global. It’s quaint—you just feel at home when you go there.
Favorite holiday: Father’s Day. It reminds me to try to set a good example for my kids to live by and hopefully they will pass those morals and standards they learned from me onto their kids.
Five people I’d invite to a dinner party: Brett Favre (awesome), Dave Chappelle (he’s just so funny), Rihanna (I’ve always had a crush on her), Bill Gates (he does so much charity work, so I would want to talk to him, because I think he’s a real, genuine person) and President Barack Obama (the way he speaks and comes across, people will remember him).
Happiest when: I’m surrounded by the love and laughter of my family and friends.
Dream travel destination: Galapagos Islands. I want to see the animals there and the different things you can’t find anywhere else in the world. I would love to see a giant tortoise, 100-some years old, still walking around.
Roberto Minello, 36
Collateral operations manager, Smyrna
Zodiac sign: Capricorn
Roberto Minello’s days are spent leading a finance team, but his true passion is the outdoors, where he heads most weekends to hike, camp and relax. It’s a love that originated in childhood, when his father took him fishing. A frequent adventurer, Minello recently embarked on a solo 10-day wilderness expedition in the Colorado Rockies. While a partner who enjoys his hobbies would be great, it’s not a prerequisite “as long as she’s accepting and shows some interest in my passions,” he says. Indoors, he enjoys cooking and home-repair projects.
Favorite thing to cook? I like to try new recipes. But I learned to cook from my mother and grandmother, who favored Italian dishes from their heritage.
His ideal partner: She’s down-to-earth and willing to try new things. Compassion and patience are also important. We’d laugh and cook together, and she’d challenge me every day.
Pet peeve: Texting and driving.
Worst habit: Leaving dishes in the sink overnight.
Dream destination: Alaska—the mecca for anyone who loves outdoors—with its hundreds of miles of mountains and open landscape. I would like to first do an Alaskan cruise since there’s just as much to see from the water as there is from land.
Dallas Poole, 25
Customer care advisor, Wilmington
Zodiac sign: Aquarius
During the pandemic, Dallas Poole has had one date: a picnic in the park that likely would have turned into more dates if not for fear of getting sick. “It was just bad timing,” Poole says.
A lover of people and music, socializing with friends and attending concerts were among his favorite things to do pre-COVID-19. Never one to take things too seriously, Poole hopes to find an open-minded partner who enjoys exploring what life has to offer. “I want someone who is fun, who I can experience new things and grow with,” he says, noting that he’d also love to have kids someday. In the meantime, he’s found joy in cooking at home, meeting potential dates through social media apps and learning to speak Korean, and looks forward to the day when he can catch another live show, travel to Greece or Italy and be where he’s happiest: surrounded by loved ones.
Deal-breaker: Someone who is not kind or accepting of other people.
Best date spot: Walking around the Delaware Art Museum or Constitution Yards.
Pros and cons of dating in a small state: You might have friends who can set you up with someone…everyone knows everyone. That’s a pro and con.
Best quality: I am a very positive. I love to make people laugh and smile.
A charming quirk: I have a lot of funny little sayings and different voices.
Worst habit: I spend too much money on clothes and tattoos.
Preferred holiday: Halloween; I love dressing up and decorating for it. Also, scary movies are my favorite.
If you could perform one random act of kindness: I’d help my friends and family out with anything financial they needed.
Felicia Skinner, 32
High school math teacher, New Castle
Zodiac sign: Leo
A New York native, Felicia Skinner and her son, 13, would frequently visit his godmother in Dover. “I fell in love with Delaware…the small-town feel, how close everything is to the beaches,” Skinner says. In 2013, the family relocated and quickly settled in New Castle. While the demands of teaching and parenting during the pandemic haven’t allowed much opportunity to date, Skinner hopes a return to normal will deliver a potential partner who appreciates her vivaciousness and love of travel. “I’m looking for someone to build a life with, someone to make memories with,” she says. His faith—she’s a Christian—is also important, and she’d like to have another child. “We can work hard to provide a life for ourselves and our children that is full of joy and happiness.”
When are you happiest? When I’m singing or performing. I also like to read.
Preferred date spot: Any quaint spot in Wilmington, like Makers Alley or Tolbert Street Social.
Best trait: I can have a good time no matter what the activity.
Most cherished holiday: Christmas. I love making new traditions with my son as he grows up.
A perfect first date: Doesn’t matter where we are, but laughter is a must.
Deal-breaker: I will not tolerate any behavior that is toxic, especially because my relationships also affect my son. Also, smacking while eating.
Melissa Pennachi, 39
Victim services coordinator, Middletown
Zodiac sign: Capricorn/Aquarius cusper
Melissa Pennachi knows a thing or two about difficult situations. As a victims services coordinator with a police department, she advocates for those facing incredibly trying times. “I like to help people,” she says. “And I tend to be somebody that people come to.” Born in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, Pennachi has called Delaware home since college, where she studied criminal justice and sociology at the University of Delaware, later interning and working at the state attorney general’s office. Work sometimes seeps into everyday life, and early last year, she starred in the local production of The Vagina Monologues, which she says resonated with her profession. Outside of work, Pennachi considers herself easygoing, enjoying reading, strolling the park and spending time in the kitchen and with friends.
Favorite literary genre? Historical fiction and memoirs.
Cooking or baking? I learned to bake from my mother and grandmother, and now I like to share it with my own children. I wouldn’t mind having a partner to split the duties with.
Other traits that appeal: Someone who knows what they want and who has integrity, a good sense of humor and can go with the flow.
Best attribute: I’m kind and non-judgmental, so it’s easy to talk to me. I also have a good sense of humor.
Favorite holiday: My grandfather was the town Santa for 30 years in my mom’s hometown and I always think that’s a special thing to reflect back on during Christmas. Plus, I’m a sucker for holiday movies and all the decorations.
Pet peeve: Getting gas and then leaving the car at the pump while going inside.
Chuck Hall, 72
Fitness and wellness consultant, Wilmington
Zodiac sign: Cancer
Growing up on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Chuck Hall has called Delaware home for the last 40 years. He came here for a job in mortgage lending, retiring in the late 2000s. A father of two and a self-described fitness enthusiast, Hall has been on the move since his youth, when he played football and basketball, and captained his high school’s track team. He also ran on his university’s club track team. A serious runner and cyclist to this day, Hall was a former co-owner of Trolley Bikes and founded the Trolley Square Cycling Club. After taking some spin classes, Hall felt certain he could lead the charge—and so embarked on a second career. Earning his certification, he’s since taught at several retirement homes and gyms, and also shares his passion with others as a fitness consultant. In 2014, Hall biked some 4,000 miles from San Francisco to New Hampshire with a small group to raise funds for the Mike Clark Legacy Foundation, which is associated with the Boys and Girls Club of Delaware. “If you want to see America, the only way to see it is on a cycle,” Hall says. Rarely one to hang out at home or watch TV, Hall is looking for a partner who can keep up with his active lifestyle—and if she bikes or runs, all the better.
Best way to meet potential mates: My network of friends introduce me to women. I don’t do online dating.
A great first date: A picnic with burgers and chicken skins from Burger Bar, plus beer or wine. One of the best places to have a picnic is in Valley Garden Park. It’s a hidden gem. When you enter the park, it looks very normal. If you walk less than a mile, it opens up and there’s hundreds of picnic areas. The sights are incredible.
Best second-date spot: Dewey Beach. You can take a walk on the beach or run, then go up to Fenwick or down to Rehoboth or Lewes on your bicycle before having a fantastic lunch. One of my favorite things to do at the beach in the summer is the No-Shower Happy Hour at the Bottle and Cork. And then at night, go to Starboard.
Preferred holiday: New Year’s Eve. It’s a new beginning, and the days are getting longer to enjoy being outside.
Biggest pet peeve: Not taking a risk.
Dream vacation: Skiing in Utah or Colorado, or an après-ski in St. Anton on the Austria-Switzerland border.
Jacey Cloonan, 36
Assistant restaurant manager, Millsboro
Zodiac sign: Virgo
Finding enjoyment both on the stage and off, Jacey Cloonan has holds twin passions for opera and the restaurant industry. A New Jersey native, Cloonan was an opera major in college but also enjoys the fast pace of restaurants, she says. After a decade in New York City and in the wake of the pandemic, Cloonan relocated to the 302, where she enjoys being close to her parents, who retired in Millsboro. Landing a gig at SoDel Concept’s Clubhouse at Baywood, she quickly felt at home. Lately she enjoys exploring the area, grabbing drinks with friends, taking solo photography ventures and walking with her sheepadoodle, Sadie Lynn. Music also remains important for Cloonan. A fan of Puccini, La Bohème is her favorite work. “I’m a bit of a romantic that way,” she says. “It’s a dream of mine to perform in it.” She also loves cooking and has been honing her skills in quarantine, even preparing a five-course French dinner for family.
The ideal partner: He’s my equal. He’s passionate about whatever he does, is empathetic, funny and has a good sense of humor—someone who can laugh at himself. And he has to love dogs. I’m pretty liberal, so he’s got to be comfortable with that. The biggest thing, though, is someone who follows through when they say they are going to do something.
Perfect first date: I would love to just meet someone for a drink in a small dive bar. It’s casual, no pressure, like at a fancy dinner. Maybe go for a walk by the beach or on the boardwalk, then end the date with making a plan for another one.
Best trait: I’m very open emotionally and with regard to new experiences.
Preferred holiday: Christmas and family traditions from since I was little. One is we write down the names of all our loved ones and friends that have passed away. We have a little bonfire, say something about them and then we send it up to heaven. We get up early on Christmas morning and do a polar plunge and then we do a shot of vodka.
Dream destination: Thailand. I would love to experience the street food and beaches and the people and the bustle of Bangkok.
Vanessa Louisne, 31
Teacher and tutor, Dover
Zodiac sign: Pisces
Vanessa Louisne is still discovering Delaware’s wonders and the dating scene. Relocating to the First State from the Big Apple during the early stages of the pandemic, she now calls Dover home, where her parents also settled a couple of years ago. Louisne was inspired to pursue a career in early childhood education because of her own positive experiences as a student. When she moved from Haiti to the U.S. at age 5, she spoke only Haitian Creole and her teachers helped her overcome language barriers and taught her English as her second language. Louisne now shares her enthusiasm for learning with her own students. A creative individual who enjoys art—especially with her young son, younger siblings and her students—she says she loves visiting museums and hopes to one day see Rome. Big into music, her tastes swing from country to pop to hip-hop, and she’s equally happy catching a show live or staying in and watching Netflix.
The ideal partner: He’s willing to settle down, is able to commit and has a plan in life.
Best way to meet dates: Through friends and family. Men usually approach me first, whether it’s in a restaurant or at a party.
A perfect first date: A museum, park or picnic. I like communicating with people. So it can’t be in a theater where we don’t talk.
Best attribute: Confidence.
Favorite holiday: Christmas. The whole month of December is inspiring. I think people show a little bit more kindness.
Bridget Callahan, 34
Occupational therapist, Wilmington
Zodiac sign: Capricorn
Bridget Callahan has lived in Delaware most of her life, but her native Massachusetts remains important to her. She spent summers with her grandmother on Cape Cod and returns every year (the word “wicked” lingers in her vernacular, she says). After working in sports medicine and as an athletic trainer, Callahan later earned her master’s in occupational therapy. “I like treating the entire person, not just the physical aspect,” she says. A great listener, Callahan loves spending time with friends and family, visiting local wineries and breweries, and traveling. Always eager to explore new places—her curiosity has taken her to Ireland, Scotland and Africa, to name a few places—she’s equally happy at home, she says, noting that it would be great to find a partner who craves the same balance.
The ideal partner: He’s someone who is family-oriented, has a sense of humor and won’t shy away from a spontaneous trip.
Best date spot in Delaware: Constitution Yards. There are a lot of fun things to do year-round—live music, games, drinks and ice skating, and it’s on the water.
On dating during the pandemic: I could have done Zoom dating, but it just felt awkward. I was also treating COVID-19 patients, so I’ve tried to self-quarantine.
Best attribute: Empathy. I love helping others, whether it is a random person out in public or one of my patients at work. I treat everyone how I would want to be treated.
Worst habit: Oversleeping. I’m known for turning off my alarm in my sleep, so I have four alarms set daily.
Would love to: Adopt a grandparent. There are so many older adults without family who could use some extra love, especially during these lonely times. If something as simple as a letter could brighten their day, then why not?