Noreen Rochester, owner of Biddeford-based Cara Matchmaking, feels there are many advantages to using a traditional matchmaking service, despite the popularity of online dating.

Noreen Rochester, owner of Biddeford-based Cara Matchmaking, feels there are many advantages to using a traditional matchmaking service, despite the popularity of online dating.

BIDDEFORD — If you’re sick and tired of being single, Noreen Rochester wants to help.

In a world filled with dating websites and smartphone applications like Ok Cupid and Tinder, the Biddeford native’s traditional matchmaking business, Cara Matchmaking, is thriving. This time of year – with some still holding onto New Year’s Eve resolutions, cold temperatures ideal for cuddling and, of course, Valentine’s Day – she always sees an uptick in clients.

Rochester has been a matchmaker for 27 years. In the beginning, she did it for her own pleasure. The first couple she ever matched has been married for more than 25 years.

Then, about 20 years ago, she opened her first dating service. She later sold that business, and in 2013, she opened Cara Matchmaking in downtown Biddeford’s North Dam Mill.

“I’m passionate about love,” Rochester said Tuesday, sitting in her office. “I think that there’s nothing better in the world than to find the right person and share your life with the right person.”

While many of her roughly 300 clients span in age from their late 20s to 50s, her oldest client is 82. In the past, she even worked with a 92-year-old man and matched a couple in their 80s, who ended up marrying.

Although she doesn’t divulge client names, Rochester said she has worked with some familiar faces too. “We’ll be sitting here doing an interview and all of a sudden I go, ‘What is it you do?’ and then they tell me and I go, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve seen you on TV!’” she said.

In all, she said she’s matched thousands of people over the years.

What makes Cara unique is the face-to-face interaction and personalized dating advice Rochester offers. “At Cara, you’re more than a profile and a set of pictures,” the business’s website reads.

Rochester estimated that more than 90 percent of her clients, who live as far south as Boston and as far north as Bar

Harbor, have tried and become fed up with online dating, which can be time consuming and risky.

“I cut through all of that,” Rochester said. “I’ve met every single person. Everybody’s been vetted.” According to Cara’s website, some clients may even be asked to undergo criminal background checks.

Clients’ initial meetings with Rochester last two or more hours, during which she gets to know the person and the type of person they’re looking for, she said. Later, she suggests potential matches and clients are given each other’s contact information to set up dates.

Rochester’s involvement doesn’t end there. “I give advice on what to do on dates, what not to do,” she said, adding that she is even there for clients who have started dating and are experiencing relationship troubles.

With one part-time employee and another scheduled to start soon, Rochester is bracing for Cara’s busiest time of year.

“I’ll be busy after Valentine’s Day because people will say, ‘I’m not spending another Valentine’s Day alone,’” she said. “If you’ve been alone for a lot of your life on Valentine’s Day it can be kind of sad. You walk through the stores and you see all the Valentine’s Day stuff and you see the commercials. But when you meet somebody, (Valentine’s Day) is pretty great.”

So what are someone’s chances of finding love through Cara? According to a statistician Rochester hired, her success rate is 86 percent – a figure that surprised even her.

Membership costs $299 per year, which includes unlimited introductions to potential matches; a first meeting with Rochester can be scheduled at no cost. To learn more about Cara Matchmaking, visit caramatchmaking.com or call 712-8595.

— Staff Writer Angelo J. Verzoni can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]


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