The idea here is a genuine green business opportunity for a chain of restaurants, giving customers a chance to have a relaxed meal with distant friends without the cost, fatigue and environmental impact of long-distance travel.
At the other location, an identical booth accommodates the distant friends. With a high-quality videoconference system, each group sees the others on the screen at the far end of the table -- the table at the "other end" becomes an extension of the table at "this end". So we end up, as closely as possible, with the experience of a single table with the two groups arranged around each end of it. The wall disappears and the screen becomes a window into the other location -- a "wormhole" connecting the two ends.
The menu can be the same at both ends, so the diners can choose the same food if they want to. The restaurant kitchens also do their best to synchronise delivery of the food at the two tables.
The restaurant can charge a decent fee to book the special tables. After all, it is a heck of a lot cheaper than actually meeting up for real. And the restaurant can emphasize that by booking a joint virtual table, the customers have saved a great deal of time, pollution and money compared to long-distance travel. Why fly to America once a year to see your sister when you can meet up for lunch every couple of months at a fraction of the cost and without setting foot in an airport?
The restaurant also perhaps gets to fill tables at times of day that would otherwise be unpopular, as parties meeting up in different timezones may need to have a very late dinner or a mid-morning lunch to synchronise with the other end. Indeed one end may be eating breakfast while the other is eating dinner, etc. This could lead to some fun advertising.
The bill can be paid separately at either end, or by someone at just one end -- so it is still possible to treat someone far away to a meal.
The restaurant does have to invest in reliable equipment that gives a consistently good experience, and can cope with the odd spilt drink or wayward bit of food.
In the special restaurant booth, everyone gets to chat over a few drinks, with the real experience of "going out" for an occasion. If ever an excuse was required to have a large meal with wine at 4 o'clock in the afternoon -- or even 10 o'clock in the morning -- here it is, given possible timezone differences. Conversation is less hurried and naturally turns to the business of ordering and enjoying the food as well as catching up on news. Once the meal is finished and the bill paid, proceedings naturally draw to a close -- until next time.
Video calls at home can only be made to technically savvy people. But there is no problem inviting your elderly aunt or techophobe friend out to the restaurant, and it is the venue's problem to ensure a seamless high-quality video link, leaving the diners free to enjoy the occasion.
Bars or pubs could use the same principle to allow a virtual drink with distant friends, though the cost overhead lends itself more to restaurant bookings. Long-distance drinking games become a serious possibility, and given the right integration of till systems, one should be able to buy a drink for someone at the other end.