For nearly one week out of every year,Chicago's McCormick Place is transformed into a bustling network of exhibitors showcasing the latest in restaurant food, beverage equipment and supplies.
This year is no different as more than 10,000 attendees and 1,200 exhibitors are expected to make an appearance at the 2010 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, May 22-25.
With enhanced education sessions, a greater focus on international topics and several new pavilions, operators can find the information and products they need as the restaurant industry climate improves.
"Where else under one roof can you so quickly and efficiently find so many products, services, ideas and contacts," said Greg Kirrish, vice president of convention marketing for the NRA. "If you want to efficiently and cost-effectively find what you need to know, there's nowhere else better you can go."
To make the most use of your time, it's important to have a game plan. Here's a preview of seven must-see things at the show.
Restaurant Executive Breakfast
Fast casual operators will want to start off the show by attending the Restaurant Executive Breakfast. Titled "Blazing New Revenue Streams," the event will help executives find new ways to innovate and expand their brands and services as traditional revenue streams become increasingly challenging.
Held May 22 from 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. atChicago's McCormick Place, the breakfast will feature Susan Shields, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Jamba Juice, Scott Baitinger, operator & co-owner, Streetza Pizza, and John Inserra, senior vice president of restaurant operations for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.
"Sales diversification is not a new business strategy, but it has become more important than ever during these challenging economic times," said Ira Cohn, convention chair for NRA Show 2010 and president of ARAMARK Business and Industry Group. "Finding new ways to engage guests outside of the dining room can be a great boost to revenues. From cooking classes, to mobile foodservice, to retail licensing, our Restaurant Executive Breakfast panelists will share how they succeeded in non-traditional sales territory."
Keynote speaker Charlie Rose
Newscaster Charlie Rose will present the keynote address May 23 at 2 p.m. in the Vista Ballroom. Rose is the executive editor and anchor of Charlie Rose, the nightly one-hour interview program, and a contributing correspondent to 60 Minutes. He will discuss current issues and events shaping the world.
"Mr. Rose's background of interacting with some of the most influential elected and opinion leaders of our time puts him in a unique position to provide NRA Show 2010 attendees with new perspectives on issues that affect all of us," said Ira Cohn, convention chair for NRA Show 2010 and president of ARAMARK Business and Industry Group.
Deciding which education sessions to attend this year has been made easier thanks to their alignment with the NRA's four industry imperatives: Jobs & Careers, Sustainability & Social Responsibility, Profitability & Entrepreneurship, and Food & Healthy Living.
"Keeping up with the latest trends, success strategies and innovations is crucial to building profits and controlling costs in any restaurant," Cohn said. "The NRA Show offers unparalleled opportunities to learn from recognized industry experts."
- Winning Share of Heart – Strategies for Building a Cause Marketing Campaign – Saturday, May 22, from noon to 1:30 p.m. (Sustainability/Social Responsibility)
- Plant a Garden and Harvest Profits – Sunday, May 23, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (Profitability & Entrepreneurship)
- Building a Culture that Builds Leaders – Monday, May 24, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and presented by Chipotle Co-CEO Monty Moran. (Jobs & Careers)
- Acrylamide: The Facts You Need to Know –Tuesday, May 25 from noon to 1:30 p.m. (Food & Healthy Living)
Education sessions will be held in McCormick Place's South Hall on Level 4, and in the Technology Pavilion on Level 3 in the North Hall, all four days of the NRA Show. For a full schedule of sessions, visitwww.restaurant.org/show.
Food Truck Spot
The Food Truck Spot is a dedicated area on the show floor where operators can research and shop for the equipment they need to launch, market or expand their food truck businesses.
NRA Show 2010
When: May 22-25
Saturday thru Monday: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday - 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Keynote address:Who: Charlie RoseWhen: May 23 at 2 p.m.Where:McCormick Place
"Mobile foodservice has gained attention in culinary and restaurant circles over the last couple of years, so we created this feature to allow NRA Show attendees opportunities to explore this phenomenon," said Annika Stensson, the NRA's director of media relations.
Exhibitors include LudoBites Food Truck by Mobi Munch, and other companies that manufacture and/or offer parts, service, accessories, financing, software and insurance for mobile food truck businesses.
Every year the NRA Show features the Kitchen Innovations pavilion showcasing the 2010 Kitchen Innovations Awards winners. Innovations this year include the Spin Fresh Centrifugal Fryer from Perfect Fry Company. The countertop fryer uses spin technology to remove excess oil from cooked food. After the oil is spun off, the food is finished with a convection cooking step designed to reduce product calories and enhance the taste.
From Multiplex/Manitowoc Foodservicecomes the Blend In Cupsmoothie machine.The refrigerated machine produces a wide range of smoothies and dairy based beverages. All of the ingredients, including the ice machine, are onboard the device. It also features a touchscreen to allow operators to manage inventory and operational procedures.
Oliver Packaging & Equipment Company won a Kitchen Innovation award for its Mini Chip Slicer.The countertop slicer can extend a restaurant's product offering through its ability to safely and efficiently create snack chips from day old bakery items such as bagels, baguettes, and buns.
International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event
This year marks the third annual International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event, held May 23-24 at the NRA Show.
The IWSB event will serve up emerging wine, spirits and beer producers from around the world, exclusive food-alcohol pairing stations and expert-led, educational sessions.
- Improve Your Margins – Sunday, May 23, from 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.
- Capitalizing on "What's Hot"– Sunday, May 23, from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
- Developing Customized Promotions,Monday, May 24, from 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Featured exhibitors also include Boston Beer Co., the makers of Samuel Adams Boston Lager; Sapporo USA; and Diageo, whose portfolio of spirit brands include Smirnoff Vodka, Jose Cuervo, Bailey's Irish Cream, Red Stripe and Guinness.
Green product pavilions
This year, the show's emphasis on green is larger than ever. Besides the Green Restaurant Association's 800 square-foot presence in the South Hall, the National Restaurant Association also will have its own sustainability relatedConserveSolutionsCenter. The presence coincides with the NRA's launch into recognizing green efforts of restaurants through its "Greener Restaurants" program launched in April. Both will reside in the Conserve Pavilion.
GRA founder and president Michael Oshman has said his non-profit, which is dedicated to certifying restaurants as "green," will have two important announcements at the show. One is in regard to a new product launched with GRA standards that will help restaurateurs be more effective in their sustainability efforts. The other pertains to "a free resource restaurants will have that will change the game for how restaurants know what's green and what's not," Oshman said.
* Bonus must-see event: Flash Mob
NRA Show staff also is organizing the restaurant and hospitality industry's first-ever flash mob dance May 25, at 10:30 a.m. on the Grand Concourse at Chicago's McCormick Place. The originally choreographed flash mob dance – set to Lady Gaga's "Just Dance" – was created by dancer Christina Chen of Cerqua Dance Theatre exclusively for the NRA Show. The easy-to-follow routine isavailable on YouTubefor NRA Show 2010 attendees and exhibitors who wish to learn it to participate. A special practice session will be available with the choreographer at the Show May 25 at 9:30 a.m. in room N427 at McCormick Place, Chicago. An NRA Show or International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event badge is required to access McCormick Place during the event.