A ubiquitous opinion of New York City residents is that it can be difficult to make friends in such a sprawling city. Katie Skare, a resident of New York for many years, agrees.
In order to remedy this problem, Skare decided to start going on "sandwich dates," where she and a total stranger meet over a New York sandwich. She then posts clips from her date on TikTok to document the experience so she (and her nearly 20K following on the app) can see where the best sandwiches in New York are and who she meets on her dates.
Back in May, Skare was even featured on the 3rd Hour of TODAY, where she talked to Al Roker about her experience starting her "NYC Sandwich Date" series — and she even ate a sandwich (a BLAT!) with Al.
But through her sandwich dates, Skare found one thing she didn't necessarily plan on finding: love.
On a sandwich date in March 2022, Skare met Ricky, her now-boyfriend, where they got bánh mì from Hanco's in Park Slope, Brooklyn, then went to Prospect Park.
Skare says that, although she never necessarily expected to have a romantic connection through her sandwich dates, she did subconsciously hope the sandwich dates would help her come out of her shell and prep her for the intimidating New York dating world.
"I don't think my conscious brain knew this at the time, but really a big part of this was the dating thing, too. I never wanted the TikToks to be my own personal dating show, but I wanted it to be just me getting out there and meeting more people, since I was particularly shy with dating," Skare told TODAY Food.
Skare was also not a fan of typical dating methods — meet on an app, exchange meaningless text conversations for days, never to speak again — so meeting someone in person (over delicious sandwiches, no less) seemed like a better option to her.
When Katie Met Ricky
In order to score a coveted sandwich date with Skare, you have to email the address found at the link in her TikTok bio. From her inbox, she draws people's names at random for her next date.
Skare said Ricky's email stood out to her among the many others that were in her very crowded inbox.
"Ricky's email was very funny and charming. But I get a lot of funny and charming emails! For some reason though, it just kept popping into my head," Skare said.
But in the pursuit of fairness, Skare drew names randomly and landed a date for March 2 with two women. Coincidentally, the two women ended up having to cancel last minute.
She took this as a serendipitous sign to reach back out to Ricky.
When she responded to his email with her phone number to schedule the date, she discovered they both had Minnesota area codes. "Another sign," she thought.
And then, like something out of a Nora Ephron movie, Skare and Ricky connected deeply over their bành mí sandwiches in Brooklyn's Prospect Park — and have been dating for six months now.
"He is exactly the person for me. I feel very lucky," Skare told TODAY.
Making TikToks helped with her personal growth, too.
Skare has also found out more about herself as a person through her sandwich dates.
She told TODAY she identifies as a people pleaser and introvert, but she didn't want that to stand in the way of her personal growth.
"I really made it my goal this past year to push myself and not limit myself," she said.
Creating an online presence and putting herself out there on TikTok in January 2022, she's found more friends in NYC — even some friends that she and Ricky now share.
"I've learned that I really am capable of being a social and personable person if I don't get in my own way," she said. "The anxiety is still there, but I'm much better at pushing past it."
When she first started making TikToks, she vowed to do her sandwich dates weekly. She quickly discovered that, for her schedule and social battery, that wasn't feasible for her.
But— not to fear! — she'll still be continuing her sandwich date series and plans to make some other NYC content (featuring Ricky!) as well.
As for the best sandwich in NYC?
Skare says to check out the chicken Parm sandwich at Parm, and an Italian hero with balsamic glaze from Cappone's in Chelsea Market.