Tag Archives: Chicago

National Restaurant Association Show Recap

One of the foodservice and hospitality industry’s largest events, the National Restaurant Association Show, recently wrapped up after a busy four days (May 5-8) at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill.

McCormick Place is the perfect venue for an event as large as the NRA Show, with 2.6 million square foot exhibit halls and ceilings up to 50 feet high.  The show uses every inch of space they reserve, with many booths tightly squeezed in together.  Then there are the thousands of people bumping into each other as they go from booth to booth to see the latest and greatest products and taste different foods and beverages.

This year the event took up two of McCormick Place’s massive halls and was comprised of around 1,856 exhibitors of the foodservice and hospitality industry.

Attendees and Exhibitors

What’s great about the NRA Show is anyone from a company can attend and get a meaningful experience as it provides several learning and networking opportunities–whether it’s a company’s buyer or member of a marketing department.  As you walk through the event and glance at different badges, you truly see the several different types of people that come to visit the show.

While attendees gain product knowledge and learn about other companies, exhibitors get a just as meaningful experience.

NRA said exhibitors are able to “connect with a massive group of high-level decision-makers and influencers from all across the foodservice and hospitality industry.”

As a bonus, NRA said after the show, those who attended plan to spend an average of $429,600 with exhibitors they connected with.

Schedule and Events

This year’s show had a jam packed schedule with the show floor being open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except only open until 3 p.m. on the last day) and various events, attractions, educational sessions and demonstrations.

The show also held the International Wine, Spirits and Beer Event on May 6-7.

On Sunday May 6, the show’s keynote speaker was President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation.  According to a Chicago Sun-Times article, a large portion of his one-hour speech pertained to childhood obesity.  He also praised the NRA for their commitment to children’s health initiatives.  (Read the article for more information).

This year was the first year for the Inaugural Operator Innovations Awards, “a program for commercial and non-commercial operators who transform the industry with their extraordinary creativity and commitment.” Winners were announced at the Destination: Celebration event on May 5.  (Check out the nominees and the winners).

Social Media

As there are thousands in attendance or interested in the show, social media helps to keep everyone involved, whether they are attending or not.

Social media was heavily used and enabled everyone to stay connected via NRA’s Facebook, Twitter (also using #NRA2012), LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr accounts.  People were also able to subscribe to the show press room’s RSS feed.

Those who weren’t able to attend or want to re-live certain events can benefit from all of NRA’s different social media platforms for videos, pictures and more.

Central’s Experience

Central has had a presence at the NRA Show since 1983, which is two years after we opened. Product Consultant Steve White has been attending the show on and off since 1988—and to the left is a photo of all his different badges from over the years.

It was Central Product Consultant Karin Romani’s first year attending the show and said it was a really great learning experience.

“I ate my way through the show,” she said, as everyone at the show does. “But I learned about the new NSF-2012 rules going into effect in November (that will affect slicer manufacturers for one thing).  And I got to see a few new models of fryers and ranges at the American Range booth—fryers with a built in filter that filters continually while frying.  (I also saw) a commercial range that has a pilot light like a residential range that turns off between uses rather than staying on continually like most commercial ones.”

Romani added she saw a new line of flash freezers that she had been looking into for a customer.

“It was really nice to be able to see so many things in one place,” she said.

That essentially is the best way to describe the show—everything in one space with tons of innovative products.

Next year’s event will be at McCormick Place again, from May 18-21.

If you attended the NRA Show, please let us know what you thought! What were some of the favorite products you saw or food items you tried?

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: February 17

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for February 13-17.

Tip-Income Questions with Answers from NRA
From National Restaurant Association, Read Article

As we move into tax season, the National Restaurant Association wanted to be sure some of the major questions were answered.  They put together an article that talks about restaurateurs filing tip-reporting data with the IRS, qualifications for a federal income tax credit on the FICA payroll taxes paid on certain employee tips and a reminder on law requirements.  Read the full article on the NRA website

Senate Approves Lower Minimum Wage Requirements for Servers, Bartenders, etc. in Florida
From Orlando Sentinel, Read Article

Florida workers who rely on tips aren’t too happy about a recent bill that passed through a Senate committee. Why? According to a recent Orlando Sentinel article, the minimum wage requirements will allow restaurants and employers to reduce the current minimum wage of $4.65 an hour to $2.13 an hour. Many workers are infuriated.  The Orlando Sentinel said the bill was proposed by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.  “The organization argues that it’s necessary because the minimum wage, which under state law rises annually to cover inflation, is among the expenses financially crippling restaurants in Florida,” they said.  Read article in full on the Orlando Sentinel website.

Valentine’s Day Specials at Chain Restaurants Image: alvimann/MorgueFile
From L.A. Times, Read Article

Valentine’s day was Tuesday, February 14.  It’s a very popular day for couples to eat dinner out, but with the United States’ current economic situation, not everyone can afford fine dining.  Fast food chains and quick service restaurants picked up the slack and provided great deals for those who didn’t want to cook their own Valentine’s Day dinner.  In a recent L.A. Times article, some of the specials they mentioned were Papa Murphy’s heart-shaped pizza and Dunkin’ Donuts heart-shaped doughnuts.  For more details on what restaurants were planning for, check out this L.A. Times article.

Chicago Schools Will Soon Stock EpiPens
From Education Week, Read Article

The number of food allergies is on the rise.  In a recent Education Week article, they found statistics from the American Academy of Pediatrics that say approximately every one in 25 school-age children has a food allergy.  To help prevent possible life-threatening allergic reactions, Illinois has passed a law and soon all Chicago Public Schools will stock approximately four to six EpiPens each.  They will also train school employees on how to use them.  Read the full article on the Education Week website.

Restaurants Gearing Up for Lent
From Restaurant Hospitality, Read Article

Next Tuesday, Feb. 21, is Mardi Gras–then the following day is when Lent begins.  During Lent, Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays, so many restaurants update their menu to provide Lenten specials.  In a recent Restaurant Hospitality article, they say many fast food chains have a fish sandwich, and those who don’t usually have one will add one.  Then other restaurants will provide other specials during the season with seafood menu items such as tuna and shrimp.

If your restaurant hasn’t considered updating your menu for Lent, Restaurant Hospitality says, “Pick up a couple items that would work within your restaurant’s pricing structure/service scheme and you’ll have a mini-Lenten menu you can promote.” They also say this is a good way to “pump a little life into your restaurant in what can otherwise be a drab time of the year.”  Read the full article on the Restaurant Hospitality website.

All images used from MorgueFile.com.

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: January 13

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for the first week of the new year, January 9 through January 13.

Image: Drummerboy/MorgueFile

Twinkies Bankrupt?
From Los Angeles Times, Read Article

One of the most popular topics discussed, posted and tweeted about this week has been the fate of the Twinkie. Maker of the Twinkie and other treats such as Donettes, Ding Dongs, Mini Muffins and Zingers, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  This isn’t the first time the brand has filed, according to the LA Times, they had filed back in 2009.  Read more on the LA Times website.

President Bill Clinton Announced Keynote Speaker for NRA Show
From National Restaurant Association, Read Article

This week the National Restaurant Association announced President Bill Clinton will be the keynote speaker of this year’s National Restaurant Association, Hotel-Motel show.  The show will be held in Chicago at McCormick Place on May 5-8, with President Clinton speaking on May 6.  NRA said he will “share insights into his presidency and his current work with the William J. Clinton Foundation.”  Read the full article here.

Image: sideshowmom/MorgueFile

Braille on…Burgers?
From HuffPost Food, Read Article

Every once in awhile a restaurant will put together something very interesting that’s also helpful for their customers.  HuffPost recently reported on Wimpy, a South African fast food chain, is putting messages in Braille on their buns!  They listed an example being “100% Pure Beef Burger Made For You.”  Read more on the HuffPost website.

Indianapolis Food Trucks Gearing Up for Super Bowl
From Mobile Cuisine, Read Article

Indianapolis has been busy preparing for the Super Bowl–especially foodservice establishments.  One of the pieces of the giant Super Bowl puzzle is food trucks.  With many coming into the city and walking around, food trucks will play a very important role. Recently, it’s been announced there have been trucks chosen to park around Indianapolis’ Monument Circle while Super Bowl events are going on.  Mobile Cuisine recently posted an article with a few quotes from participating food trucks, read more on the Mobile Cuisine website.

Central’s Latest Master Catalog to Drop Tuesday Jan. 17
From the Central Blog, Read Blog

On Tuesday Jan. 17, our latest catalog will be hitting the streets.  Our catalog is 384 pages and we’ve added in over 900 new products.  For this catalog, we teamed up with Vulcan, one of the world’s largest commercial cooking equipment manufacturers, for an exclusive promotion: the lowest price on products as well as free shipping.  Read more on the Central blog.