Pasta party

Epson projectors, Epson PoS printers and lots of imagination

Pasta party

People with special needs have opened a successful pasta bistro in Überlingen am Bodensee.

It is 11:30 am on a typical weekday and Hochbildstraße in Überlingen is already busy. Hungry people queue at Nudel Emma, sometimes out onto the street. The restaurant offers fresh organic pasta with homemade sauces at modest prices - a lunch portion starts at €3.50. Even experienced hospitality staff would work up a sweat given the crowds.

At Nudel Emma, up to four people with special needs work per shift, sometimes side-by-side with their personal instructors. With the aid of projections from an Epson EB-1780W, employees are guided to which hand movements should be performed next via illuminated frames projected in green. The projector is safely stored in a technical box above the counter. A mirror guides the projection, at a 90-degree angle, onto ready-to-use bowls filled with fresh ingredients in the refrigerated salad bar. Thanks to its brightness of up to 3,000 lumens, the coloured signs are clearly visible in even sunny weather. With its narrow outer dimensions and low weight, it’s suitable for installation in small spaces. At Nudel Emma, it was vital that the projector could be safely stored in the small technical box on the ceiling of the restaurant. The projection distance for this is around 1.60 m. The projector's wide keystone correction ensures that the illuminated frames with the ingredient names are always precisely displayed on the work surface, without distortion.

Organisation and presentation at the most modern level

In Nudel Emma, guests order from a daily menu displayed behind the counter. One employee from the team records the customer’s order and enters it into the iPad cash register system from Orderbird, which is connected to an Epson TM-m30 PoS printer and produces the order receipt. The Nudel Emma team is particularly impressed by the quality of the receipts and the printing speed of the TM-m30. The device is simple to use, and replacing the paper roll is super quick.

The data for the projector is prepared by a Raspberry Pi computer and transferred via an HDMI cable. Alternatively, it can be controlled via a VGA or composite input and via WIFI directly from a compatible smartphone. While the EB-1780W projects the necessary steps for the employee during the meal preparation, another Epson projector - a EB-535W series short-throw projector - displays small video clips on the bistro wall. The customer can see which ingredients are currently being handled in their order.

Clever tools

Portioners in the bowls in the refrigerated salad bar ensure that employees keep precisely to the recipes. They are connected to the Raspberry Pi via removable Bluetooth modules. Red warning projections are triggered if the bowls are incorrectly stored or if the order is mixed up. Around ten sauce options are on the menu at Nudel Emma every day. These are based on three basic homemade tomato, white wine and cream sauces from the preparation kitchen at the back of the restaurant. They are refined with herbs and additional ingredients, and favourites are Bolognese and Carbonara sauce. The organic pasta, which is sometimes partially pre-cooked, comes from the Überling pasta factory at the back of the building. The delicious pasta snacks are prepared with a specially developed steam mixer and cooker.

Developer Michael Thieke calls his inclusive gastronomy system “free spirit”. He developed the idea together with SKID Managing Director Reinhard Wein and presented it at the leading gastronomy fair Internorga in March 2018. The digital prosthesis, as Thieke describes his idea, won him one of five 2018 founder prizes. The prize money of €10,000 went towards further development of the system. Nudel Emma is a pilot restaurant and opened its doors in September 2018.

Developing skills instead of “just” work

Nudel Emma is operated by SKID gGmbH, a non-profit organisation offering socio-cultural integration services. SKID aims to enable people with special needs to live their lives as independently as possible. “It is important to give our clients meaningful work opportunities, in which they can learn social and professional competencies, explains SKID Managing Director Reinhard Wein. “The free spirit concept enables them to gain experience in the hospitality sector. This may then prove to be a stepping stone into employment in a commercial environment.”

Clients are accommodated and supported by SKIDs in a decentralised manner. They can take up opportunities to work and get involved in the pasta factory in Überling, at Nudel Emma or in a bistro in the town centre. In addition, there is also a firewood processing facility, a bakery van and a laundry service. “The free spirit concept is not only suitable for cognitively impaired employees,” said Thieke, a freelancer who currently lives in Bonn and Berlin. “It can also help caterers when training new employees with little experience, or without sufficient knowledge of the local language. Epson projectors are an integral component of this project because they are reliable, robust, easy to control and bright.”

Thieke added “I believe we will be able to significantly develop the concept further in the next few years, perhaps by integrating a website so that customers can order on the go or in advance online. The possibilities are almost endless. I am delighted that we have found a reliable partner in Epson.”