When the owners of Ambrogio15 told me about their new project, an Express Pasta counter, I was excited. This new place would be in the Little Italy Food Hall, right next to their current Ambrogio15 Little Italy counter. They brought me in for the original meetings, there was no name yet. After discussion and suggestions, the name was found. Semola.
Branding and Design
Semola is hard durum wheat semola flour, aka Rimacinata Cuore, is an amazing flour. It is perfect for making pasta; it gives pasta a wonderful rich aroma and fantastic rough texture. So this name made perfect sense for a pasta counter in Little Italy, San Diego.
After the name was found, we needed to work on the branding, and met up with Los Angeles based graphic designer, Lauren Allik that one of the Los Angeles based managing partners knew. Her Illustration skills and the concept of “debunking Italian stereotypes” came through by creating artworks based on Italian Futurism and finding the Semola mascot, Alfredo.
This is when The X Concept got involved. After developing the website solutions for Ambrogio15 in Pacific Beach and Little Italy, we knew that the solution for Semola was going to be based on the aforementioned ones.
Semola is using Square P.O.S. System for all their financial transactions. Having an online solution compatible with Square payment processing is key to simplify the accounting side of things. Woocommerce, the e-commerce solution made by WordPress is fully compatible with Square. This has been used as a proven solution for both the Take Out stores for the Little Italy and Pacific Beach locations of Ambrogio15.
Being able to integrate this solution seamlessly within their website was a priority, for multiple reasons. The front of the house staff at a food counter is usually one person. It means that when he/she is helping clients, they can’t be on the phone taking take out orders. Also we are dealing with Express Pasta, which means that your meal is ready in around five minutes. Ordering online allows you five minutes to arrive at the counter, pick up your food and enjoy it immediately. You don’t have to wait in line.
This solution is helpful on both sides of the counter. Easier for the clerk, as they don’t take time from Food Hall Clients to place take out orders. Easier for diners, as they don’t have to wait in line to get their food. Everyone wins. There is a third component in there. The cooks, they get the orders with all details on the same printer as they do for on site orders, meaning that their error rate is minimal, because they get the specifications on their receipt.
Semola Menu and Concept
Semola’s concept is all about the customization of their pasta bowls. You choose your type of pasta, your sauces, your cheeses, your finishing oils. The pasta bow you are eating is definitely what you picked for yourself, therefore with many options comes variety and choices. You can eat at this counter multiple times a week and not feel like you are eating the same thing every day.
Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten Free options are also a big part of Semola’s menu, catering to a population with dietary restrictions. Providing all the information to diners was a priority. Mentioning these restrictions always has been key on the online ordering side of things.
We also developed a secondary online store with a more traditional ordering system for catering activities. You have a large group of people to feed. You are looking for something that everyone likes, and that is inexpensive. Semola has large Pasta platters that thy can deliver to your home. For this to happen, you just need to go to their dedicated catering website section.
Timeframe for Semola
Before the implementation of Semola in the Little Italy Food Hall, there was a tight timeframe. Another restaurant was in the space they are occupying at this time. So between the Go-Ahead and the Grand Opening we had less than a month to have everything setup. We were able to have all the photos, and graphic materials to be setup right on time for the grand opening with a functioning website, P.O.S. System and online store available a few short weeks after opening.
Testimonial on the Online Store
We set up the online ordering platform on our website and it has resulted in a very useful tool that has helped my restaurant to grow its sales making pickup orders easier for both customers and restaurant employees. Also it is now possible to keep track of online ordering sales through the year. In conclusion I would suggest the use of this tool to my fellow restaurateurs since it makes life easier for everybody.
Luca Salvi, co-owner of Semola