Kentucky Kernel Blind Date


Savanna Burke and Jake Patty greet each other for the first time before their blind date on Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, at Puccini’s Pizza Pasta in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

In a culture where dating decisions often take the form of split-second swipes on a phone screen, the Kernel wanted to offer four UK students the chance to find something deeper.

On Friday, Feb. 11, we set up two couples on blind dates at Puccini’s Pizza Pasta, courtesy of the Kernel, to possibly meet their Valentine – or at least make a new friend.

The Kernel opened an application for any students at UK looking for love (and a free meal).

The four students were selected from the pool of applicants, paired up based on their responses to questions about their personality, sexual preference and what they were hoping to get out of the date. Editor-in-Chief Rayleigh Deaton and Managing Editor Jack Weaver sat down and played matchmaker, pairing the couples that they believed would be the most compatible.

The participants knew nothing about their date going into the evening, giving them the chance to learn about someone else with no prior knowledge about them – a unique opportunity in today’s social media-inundated society.

Couple 1: Jake Patty and Savanna Burke


Before the date…

Jake Patty: With a newly grown mustache and his outfit full of favorites — a purple flannel, boots and a Vern Gosdin t-shirt — Jake Patty, a 21-year-old junior chemical engineering major, arrived at Puccini’s for his first ever blind date.

“There’s a lot of thrill in the idea of not knowing anything about someone. And just signing up to meet them and to meet them in a more intimate environment,” Patty said.

The chance to meet someone without knowing what they looked like beforehand drove him to sign up for the experience.

“It’s not really something that’s possible anymore, because everybody has social media and everybody knows what everybody looks like, so I thought that was really interesting,” Patty said.

Patty’s excitement helped alleviate the usual stress that can come from dating, especially when he wasn’t sure if he was going to get picked to participate.

“It’s also something where there’s no pressure at all because I don’t know anything about this person,” Patty said. “This person doesn’t know anything about me. So there’s nothing to be nervous about in this circumstance.”

Without knowing any information about his date prior to the night, he wanted to rely on the chance of an organic connection.

“I’m just gonna let it flow naturally,” Patty said. “I want to see where they’re from, what they believe in, and I want to see what they’re passionate about. I think that’s the main thing.”

Savanna Burke: Junior neuroscience major Savanna Burke had never been on a blind date before, but she said her best friend convinced her to apply with her, never expecting that she would be picked.

Burke, 20, described herself as a “serious dater” and said that she has had one prior serious relationship in college.

“I like to meet a person and fully vibe about the emotional connection before going into physical connections and all those things,” she said.

Burke said that the spontaneous decision to apply for the blind date might have been a good choice for her, since she often feels too busy to meet people.

However, Burke has given thought to what she is looking for in a relationship – a partner with whom she can “do life.”

“That’s what I think I’d be looking for: somebody to inspire me in the place where I’m feeling uninspired and push me to places where I need to be pushed,” she said.

Going into the date, she said that she was “equal parts nervous and excited,” trying to keep an open mind with no expectations.

“At the very least, I’m gonna make a good friend,” she said. “That’s not the worst option at all.”

After the date…

Jake Patty: Nearly two hours later, Patty walked out. He’d had a full meal of scamorza for the appetizer and an entree of vodka cream sauce with fettuccine and chicken, which Patty described as being “phenomenal;” the night ended on a good note.

“It went great,” Patty said. “We just talked about so many different things. She’s really cool.”

He said he enjoyed the opportunity to hear where Burke was from and what she liked doing.

A few days after the date, Patty said that while he and Burke had not talked any more since, he enjoyed meeting her. He added that they were “two very different people” who might not have interacted otherwise, but the experience was a positive one.

“Overall, it was awesome to get to meet and talk with someone with absolutely no pressure, regardless of any outcome,” he said.

Savanna Burke: After her date with Patty, Burke said that she thought that even if the relationship might not go deeper, she had made a new friend.

“We just got talking about things that we both like – school, faith, books,” she said. “So if anything, really cool conversation out of that.”

She said that they had several mutual friends and expected that they would cross paths again through those connections. Burke also thought that Patty was a “very nice guy.”

Although she had never been to Puccini’s prior to the date, Burke thought it was a great spot for a first date. She ordered chicken marsala with breadsticks and salad and said the atmosphere reminded her of the pizza and pasta restaurant her family owns back home in Ohio.

Burke said she would definitely return for more of Puccini’s food.

“This is a perfect first date place,” she said. “Not too much pressure, very chill environment – what more could you want?”

A few days later, we checked in with Burke again about the date; she said that she and Patty had followed each other on Instagram. She added that she was “super grateful” for the opportunity.

With one blind date under her belt, Burke said that she would go on more in the future if given the opportunity.

“It was so fun,” she said. “Go on blind dates, people!”

Couple 2: Madison Warner and Teja Sudhakar


Before the date…

Madison Warner: Nineteen-year-old freshman natural resources and environmental sciences major Madison Warner felt the nerves all day leading up to her first ever blind date.

“I never do stuff like this. It’s really out of my comfort zone,” she said.

What began as signing up for the blind date as a joke between her and her roommate turned into a very real experience at Puccini’s last Friday night for Warner.

“Well, my roommate told me about it. She was like, ‘There’s this Valentine’s Day thing for the Kernel,’ and I said, ‘Oh my God, we have to sign up because it’ll be so funny if you get picked and I don’t,’” Warner said. “I was completely planning on not getting picked.”

While her plans went in the opposite direction, her friends encouraged her to go. Warner showed up that Friday night in a Valentine’s Day-esque outfit, with a salmon-pink sweater, blue jeans and a pair of white Converse. She said that she tried to dress casually and did not want to be “too fancy.”

Prior to the date, Warner was interested in seeing what she and her date had in common.

“I’m probably gonna ask them what they said on the application just because I thought that would be interesting, to know how we got matched up,” she said.

But as far as where the date takes them, Warner wanted to rely on seeing what happens, adding that she planned on “just winging it.”

Teja Sudhakar: A senior majoring in psychology and gender and women’s studies, 21-year-old Teja Sudhakar hoped that her first blind date experience would be straight out of a romantic comedy.

“This situation is just such a rom-com, meet cute kind of thing,” she said. “I just figured, however this turns out, it’ll be a good story in the end.”

Sudhakar said she saw the blind date advertised on Instagram and applied, wanting to do something spontaneous during her senior year, or as she described, things that scare her.

“And this definitely scared me,” she said.

Going into the evening, Sudhakar said she was nervous. Although she had dated before in college, she said she did not know what to expect for the blind date. Sudhakar’s goal for the blind date was to “make a friend.”

She said some qualities she hoped for in a partner included an appreciation for the arts, good listening skills and kindness.

“I think what I want most in a partner is a good friend,” Sudhakar said.

After the date…

Madison Warner: Two hours later, Warner emerged from Puccini’s with an armful of to-go boxes. She had ordered the pesto fettuccine and salad as her entrée, and she and Sudhakar shared the pepperoni bread and bruschetta as appetizers.

Although she said she enjoyed getting to know Sudhakar, Warner said she was unsure of what the future would hold for them.

“I’d definitely like to keep talking to her, I don’t know as a friend or something like that,” she said. “She’s very nice.”

Warner said that Puccini’s was a great first date spot, adding that the restaurant was “cute” and “secluded,” making it possible to have good conversation. She said that her first blind date was enjoyable, and she might consider going on more in the future.

“I would probably do it again; it was fun,” she said.

A few days later, Warner said that she and Sudhakar had followed each other on several social media platforms, but they had not talked since the date. Regardless, she said she “felt good” about the experience.

Teja Sudhakar: Following her date with Warner, Sudhakar left the restaurant, describing the evening as a “great experience.”

Having never been to Puccini’s before, she had the rosemary chicken pasta as her main course and split two appetizers with Warner, adding that the restaurant had a “very homey atmosphere” that made it a good place for a first date.

“I’m so happy with these leftovers,” Sudhakar said of the stack of to-go containers she was carrying. “My roommates will be thrilled.”

She said Warner was “so sweet and great to talk to,” reminding her of an old roommate.

“Our room number was 211 for two years because we stayed in the same room, and on Feb. 11 every year we’d act like it was a national holiday. And it’s cute that it’s Feb. 11 right now and I met this person who reminds me so much of her,” Sudhakar said.

She and Warner exchanged Spotify and Goodreads accounts but not phone numbers; Sudhakar said that she was hoping to approach their relationship as a friendship for the time being. She added that she wanted to “keep hanging out” with Warner and get to know her more.

“We have so much in common, and every time I learned something new about her, it was just more and more interesting,” Sudhakar said.

A few days later, she told us that she and Warner had also followed each other on Instagram, but they had not spoken since.

However, given their slight age gap, Sudhakar was unsure their relationship would go any deeper than a friendship.

“She’s super cool, and I’d love to know her better, but since she’s a freshman and I’m a senior we’re kind of at [different] places in our lives … I think a friendship between us would be more likely than a dating situation,” she said.

Although it does not appear that the two relationships will go beyond friendships for the time being, the blind dates gave four students the chance to sit down and meet someone that they probably would not have otherwise. And for those looking for a perfect spot for a first date of their own, Puccini’s is a great option!

The Kernel would like to thank Puccini’s for allowing us to hold the dates in their Chevy Chase location, as well as these four adventurous individuals who took the plunge and tried something new.