Northern Liberties restaurant owner offers virtual dining experience

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With restaurants closed to customers, the owners of many of those establishments are offering take out. But for the owner of an Armenian restaurant in Philadelphia's Northern Liberties section, that wasn't quite enough.

Ara Ishkhanian owns Apricot Stone.

He missed his interaction with his customers so he decided to give them a virtual experience of dining at his restaurant, and he serves as your virtual host.

Ishkhanian puts on a nice black shirt. He sets a table and pours a beer.

You make a reservation to connect with him via FaceTime, Skype or Zoom.

He checks in at the time of the reservation, asks if you have questions about the menu and takes your order. Then, he hangs up.

Ishkhanian says after the order is placed, one of his employees delivers the food to your home.

"After it gets delivered to your home, the driver lets me know I just dropped off your food. Probably around 10 minutes later, I'll give a FaceTime call back," said Ishkhanian.

Ishkhanian wants to give customers that dining out feel.

He plays some music.

You can hear the sounds of the kitchen preparing the Mediterranean dishes in the background.

He's done about 30 of these virtual hosting experiences.

Ishkhanian says, "It's been relaxing. You can still hear the kitchen, you know banging away, making food. The phone rings you can hear that. So, it does kind of give you that vibe, and everybody on their end is a little bit different. We've had people that pick up the phone while they're sitting on their couch. Yesterday, we had a couple and their mother. They were all dressed up. The lady was wearing a pearl necklace at a table. They had their china out."


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