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Google offering virtual views inside local restaurants

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GOODYEAR, AZ (CBS5) -

Technology is helping those of you who have driven by a bar or restaurant and wondered what it was like on the inside.

You might hesitate to pull in and check it out because you don't want to commit to hanging out there if you don't like the way it looks.

Bars and restaurants need to set themselves apart to attract new patrons because they are all competing for the same block of customers.

A West Valley marketing company is taking advantage of a new Google service that drives more people to the behemoth search engine and drives people inside of the particular business.

It is called the Google trust photography program. It is basically Google street view for businesses. A marketing company comes to the business and photographs the entire inside and then stitches those photos together as a 360-degree virtual panorama of the business.

"It definitely helps sell the place," said Paul Fratella, owner and operator of Caballero Grill on Litchfield Road in Goodyear. "People say, 'Hey, we like the fact we can see the inside of your restaurant before we go in there.'"

Caballero Grill has only been open 16 months, and they've had their virtual tour available in Google's search engine for eight months now. It has already helped Fratella land a private party of 30.

"That was kind of their selling factor. They'd never been here before, but after they saw the inside of the restaurant, they were interested in coming," Fratella said.

"It helps to create a wow factor, and a lot of business owners like that," said Eric Christopher, owner of Local Business Rockstar. Christopher sold Fratella on the idea of integrating a virtual restaurant tour with Google's search engine.

"We actually use Google's proprietary software and systems to upload the photos and create the panoramic videos," said Christopher. "There's a really extensive training process we go through with Google."

The technology works exactly like Google street view.

"We've done it for a pet store. We've done it for auto dealership, auto repair company for virtual offices," said Christopher.

"My thought was let's give it a shot, sounds like a great addition to the restaurant," said Fratella.

Implementing the system can cost businesses anywhere from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand dollars.

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