How Telemarketers Inspired This New Craft Cocktail Bar

It has likely happened to you. Your phone rings — or vibrates gently — and you wonder what friend, family member, or colleague has decided to dial you up rather than text. Regardless of your feelings on phone call etiquette, you peer at the screen, and instead of seeing a friendly photo or name it says "Unknown Caller" or, worse yet, "Spam Risk." You instinctively let it go to voicemail or end the call, annoyed at whatever telemarketing company or robocall system was able to get through to you.

But what if there was a different tack to take? Instead of avoiding the annoyance of an unsolicited call, what if you engaged with the entity on the other end of the line? According to a telemarketer who spoke with LifeHacker, it's not a bad way to make sure that whoever is calling you gets the point that you're not interested in their offer and do not wish to be called back.

But there may be other, arguably greater benefits in picking up, which was certainly the case for one North Carolina man whose time and resourcefulness have paid off in an unexpected way — a new cocktail bar.

Settling for a bar

TODAY spoke with Omar Khouri, a Winston-Salem IT company owner who found himself with a little more free time than usual during the pandemic. He also found himself to be the recipient of quite a few telemarketing calls, despite the fact that he has his number listed on the federal "Do Not Call" registry.

Khouri decided to answer the calls and find out more about the companies that were haranguing him. With local law on his side, he was able to bring legal action against these companies. To date, he has received more than $100,000 in settlement money.

With that money, Khouri is following a dream he's had and opening a cocktail bar. The theme? Telemarketing, of course. Slated to open in October, The Wrong Number will feature playful nods to telemarketing schemes, such as drinks with names like "Car Warranty," "Student Loan," and "Debt Relief."

But this wasn't all part of some grand scheme on Khouri's part. The business owner told news channel WMRU, "I never expected it would get that far, I thought it would be a couple of calls and they'd stop, but they haven't," joking that some even ended up to be the "great opportunity" many telemarketers promise. "I will give them credit, a lot of those calls are to offer debt relief," Khouri joked to the outlet, "and to that end, it was true. I mean, not the way they wanted it, but it's still debt relief."