Google unveils biz photo service in Indianapolis

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Thinking about having dinner at St. Elmo Steak House in downtown Indianapolis?

Now you can take a virtual tour of the iconic restaurant without leaving the comfort of your own home, thanks to a new service Google made available in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

The online search giant launched its Business Photos service in April 2010, but it’s been limited to larger cities such as Chicago and New York. Within the past five months Google also rolled out the service in Atlanta, Baltimore and Cincinnati, as well as internationally.

For St. Elmo, Google’s Business Photos was an easy sell, said Bryn Jones, the restaurant’s director of marketing.

“It literally lets people inside your business without having to go there,” he said. “For us, there may be an event planner in California that we can show a 360-[degree] view of one of our meeting rooms.”

Contracted photographers took more than 300 photos of St. Elmo’s interior, which spans three separate buildings, to provide a fluid tour of the eatery.

Anyone who enters the St. Elmo name into Google can take the tour by clicking on a “see inside” tab next to the restaurant’s listing on the search results. St. Elmo also has uploaded the tour onto its Facebook page and will have it available on its website within the next few weeks, Jones said.

The cost of the service starts at $300. St. Elmo paid $700, plus another $800 to include its downtown and north-side locations of sister restaurant Harry & Izzy’s.

Indianapolis resident Cassandra Salimeno and her husband Damian are two of four independent photographers in Indiana that have completed Google’s certification process to shoot the virtual tours on a contract basis.

They’ve completed about two dozen jobs in the Indianapolis area, including photo shoots for Cigar Haven in Fishers, Grapevine Cottage in Zionsville and Fishers, and for the Evan Lurie and Eye On Art galleries in Carmel.

“The hardest part is explaining to people something they haven’t seen or heard [of] before,” Cassandra Salimeno said.

Google lists about 100 photographers in the United States who are certified to take business photos.

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