If you don’t plan on visiting Texas anytime soon, you can still get a peek of Austin-based ice cream store Sweet Ritual—virtually, at least. The vegan ice cream shop was recreated within the game Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Animal Crossing is a social simulation video game that allows users to create homes and design utopian islands for a virtual getaway. The Nintendo video game has been a welcome distraction for many during the ongoing pandemic, including Sweet Ritual’s co-owner, Amelia Raley.
Raley told Eater the game provided much-need stress relief when she was forced to close the shop due to mandatory lockdown and stay-at-home orders. The ice cream store was temporarily closed for two weeks in March, it has since reopened for pickup orders only. “[H]aving my island to work on was a welcome respite,” Raley said.
She and her boyfriend recreated the store’s logo for fun. “We had to laugh: ‘What if we build out the actual shop?’” she explained. She continued: “The game has the exact soft-serve lamps that we have in our store.”
Customers enjoyed the virtual experience too. After sharing her code on social media, Raley said she received Instagram messages saying: “Thanks for letting me visit! I miss your shop so much, but it was fun to at least see it virtually. Stay safe and we’ll see you before long.”
Staying Busy During Quarantine
Raley isn’t the only person who has found creative ways to stay busy during the ongoing pandemic.
Detroit resident James Vreeland decided to make the best of quarantine by building a tiny restaurant for squirrels. Vreeland’s miniature restaurant—dubbed Maison de Noix, or Nut House—offers a sit-down service for squirrels.
The Nut House is located in Vreeland’s garden. It features a coat rail and picnic benches. The restaurant’s menu can be found at the entrance. It includes fan-favorites like Pizza Crust and the Mixed Seed Trio and Stale Bread.
Although the little eatery was designed for squirrels, Vreeland says blue jays and other local wildlife are also frequent patrons. He live-streams his miniature restaurant on Facebook Live.
“Every morning we have a rush around 10:30 to 11,” Vreeland told Fox 12 Detroit. “With the shutdown, there’s not a lot of café options. We’re the only game in town.”
“The blue jays are terrible tippers and fairly messy diners,” he added. “They’ll swoop right into the middle of the action, steal peanuts and make a run for it.”