Today’s Tuesday Tip is about an important show coming up this month. Every year, the National Restaurant Association holds the NRA Show in Chicago. If you are a restaurant owner, manager or buyer, this is a must-attend! The NRA Show showcases food, equipment and supplies, as well as the latest trends in the foodservice industry.
This year’s show takes place May 20-23 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. A ticket for all three days is just $109. To register, click here. Our advice is to utilize all three days if you go. The NRA Show takes up three exhibit halls! A massive amount of ground to cover, so bring comfortable shoes and be prepared for an amazing show!
For those in the foodservice and restaurant industry, the National Restaurant Association’s annual NRA Show is such an exciting event. This trade show provides the opportunity for industry members to connect with each other to taste new foods, learn about the latest trends, find foodservice equipment and so much more.
“It’s an energy that only the hospitality industry can create,” the NRA said.
Below are some of the latest trends and information from the show. If you were able to attend this year’s event, post about your favorite things in the comments! Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need help finding a piece of equipment or supply you were interested in.
Food and Menu
In an NRA Show convenience store presentation, it was found that sandwiches, wraps, paninis and subs were on 98 percent of menus, taking the lead of all food items.
Hot dogs and sausages came in second on 86 percent of menus, followed by breakfast items also on 86 percent. See the rest of the trends on the image shown on the right. See all trends in this Tweet from Hobart.
In other general trends, expect to start seeing more honey. In an article by Nations Restaurant News from the session “Get Your Honey’s Worth,” honey has been named the “Flavor of the Year” and chefs are learning all types of ways to incorporate into menus.
In this day in age, reviews have become imperative to restaurant-goers. According to Review Trackers, despite what many some think, review sites like Yelp have a higher amount of good ratings for restaurants. In fact, they said that 67 percent of all Yelp reviews have four and five star ratings. When it comes to reviews as a whole, Review Trackers said to trust the customer. From their research, many restaurateurs fear one negative review can ruin their reputation when in fact society today can see through the negativity.
Sustainability has done a complete 360. Today, it’s not only recognized in equipment and packaging, but the NRA Show held sessions to help restaurateurs learn how to have a more eco-friendly operation.
“There are dozens of companies at this year’s show displaying different equipment, products and service to reduce restaurants’ carbon footprints,” explained QSR Magazine.
“Purple” could be seen at many foodservice equipment and supplier booths at this year’s NRA Show. Products color coded purple are to be used with customers with food allergies to help combat cross-contamination. From containers and knives to carts and blenders, the foodservice industry has recognized the increase of consumers with food allergies and are adding more and more products to help restaurants prepare safe meals, as well as bring more awareness to staff.
One of the most fascinating booths at the NRA Show was the 3D Printing Zone. Guests could stop by the booth for samples of geometric candies and the chance to learn about the future of this technology from ChefJet Pro. According to the NRA, ChefJet Pro is the first professional-grade 3D food printer which could be used in commercial kitchens. “The full-color ChefJet Pro will be food certified and produce 3D printed confections in a number of recipes and flavors, including sugar, frosting and candy in many sweet and sour flavors,” they said. The actual printer is expected to be available sometime later in 2015.
This year’s NRA Show keynote speaker was Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington. In Nation’s Restaurant News’ (NRN) recap, they said Huffington shared her story and discussed the American Dream. NRN explained Huffington’s keynote heavily discussed the health risks associated with workplace that over-work employees which she said is the equivalent to coming to work intoxicated. “The American workpalce is one built on a culture of sleep deprivation,” the NRN quoted.
Huffington’s keynote stressed the importance of sleep and stress-reduction in the workplace to help employees be healthier and happier which in turn will help them to be more productive.
Also during the keynote, NRN explained Huffington’s discussion was disrupted by protesters who were advocating for a higher minimum wage.
“Huffington didn’t comment on wages specifically, but she noted that the restaurant industry is a bridge for many who strive for the American dream,” they said.
The variety of food served at the NRA Show is simply incredible. Show-goers can get all meals in simply by walking the floor and grabbing samples. (Don’t worry, it’s estimated you can walk 10 miles at the show, so it’s burned off, right?)
From snacks and entrees to juices and alcoholic beverages, the NRA Show truly has it all. Below are some fan favorites from all of those using the #NRAShow2015 hashtag on social media! Please share your favorites below in the comments.
When Central visits the NRA Show in Chicago each year, we make sure to drop by the Kitchen Innovation showcase for a glimpse into the near future of the equipment industry. The showcase is now in its 10th year, and a panel of judges choose 24 products for 2014 that, according to judge Dan Bendall, celebrate “cutting-edge equipment and technologies that specifically improve the back of the house and benefit foodservice operators.” The Central crew stopped by on Sunday May 18, and took a look at a few of the items that may be a part of the Central assortment in the near future.
The TurboChef Fire is a compact, countertop unit
The TurboChef Fire by TurboChef Technologies
The TurboChef Fire is a countertop pizza oven that uses convection technology to quickly cook a fresh pizza. It features integral flow cylinders that channel the airflow to rapidly increase heat transfer. With a top temperature of 800 degrees, it can cook a 14-inch, fresh dough pizza in as little as 90 seconds. We sampled the finished product and agreed it was comparable to a traditionally cooked pizza. Plus, think about the increased profits possible after adding this oven to your convenience store or low-pizza-volume restaurant when sending out a fresh pizza every few minutes – without taking up floor space.
Add smoking capabilities to your Combi-Steamer
RATIONAL VarioSmoker by RATIONAL USA
If your kitchen already contains a RATIONAL combi-steamer (built after 1997), the VarioSmoker might be a great addition to it. For only a small additional investment, you can now smoke meat, fish, and vegetables with ease. The add-on is a small, plug-and-play, mobile smoke system placed in the cooking cabinet that allows cooking and smoking of food simultaneously. The system works with conventional smoke materials like wood chips or pellets.
Convection Gas Fryer by Pearl City Manufacturing
70% Energy Efficiency in a Fryer!
Your energy costs are the most significant expense in your kitchen. So, when you combine convection heating technology that improves heating efficiency to 70% – it’s something to take a second look at. Pearl City has introduced a fryer design that constantly circulates your oil through a remote heat exchanger and filter system that results in a significant oil savings, instant temperature recovery and reduced cook times. Save on oil, energy and time – it’s a triple savings.
For information on the other 2014 Kitchen Innovation winners, visit the award page at Restaurant.Org, and remember that Central is always on the lookout for new, innovative products to add to our catalog and website. Keep an eye on CentralRestaurant.com, as some of these product may soon be a part of the Central assortement.
According to a recent study by the Beer Institute, beer sales are finally looking up after a three year period of little to no progression. “Beer sales by volume increased year-over-year for the first eight months of 2012,” said a HuffPost article. Craft beers have particularly become more popular. HuffPost added they have been the strongest sector of 2012 (so far).
McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. will remain the home of the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show and International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event through 2021. To summarize, NRA President and CEO Dawn Sweeny told Annika Stensson for NRA that they decided on Chicago again because it’s a location “that embodies so many of our industry’s unique qualities and values.” She added it’s a “world-class travel destination that provides outstanding business facilities, coupled with world-renowned restaurants, vibrant culture and dynamic entertainment.”
In the last few months, we’ve seen restaurants across the country updating their menus and/or building design. Red Lobster and Taco Bell are two restaurants jumping on board and are making changes for their customers. Nation’s Restaurant News said Red Lobster will put a new menu in place on October 15 “that includes more non-seafood meal options, more pieces of fresh fish, and more items that cost less than $15.” Then in a separate article, NRN discussed Taco Bell’s plan to remodel some of their locations, which comes just after a major menu revamp. NRN added one of the newly redesigned buildings opened in the middle of September in Commerce City, Colo.
Health-conscious consuming is on the rise, and has caused many restaurants to rethink their menu and beverage offerings. “Many guests don’t want to drink their calories, but they want to enjoy their dining experience with an appealing beverage,” said Cheryl Dolven, MS, RD, Director of Health and Wellness at Darden Restaurants for a NRN article. In an effort to improve your beverage selection, here are three ways you can revamp them. First, jazz up your water! Make water more exciting by adding lemon, lime, berries or even cucumber slices. Second, offer a wider variety of lower-calorie beverages such as green and herbal teas, skinny lemonades or lighter slurpees. Finally consider how you serve your beverages. Add more ice, serve drinks in tall, skinny glasses or don’t offer refills, the article suggests.
Columbus Day Deals
Columbus Day is quickly approaching! If you’re looking to dine out on Monday to celebrate or to simply enjoy the weekend, we’ve found some great online deals to help you save money and time!
In an AP article on the Boston.com website, it looks like there may be hope for gas prices this summer. According to the article, there was a decrease in the price of oil, therefore gas prices “likely won’t set any records this summer.” Low gas prices are good for the economy; the lower/more consistent gas prices are, the more people are willing to spend on other things such as going out to restaurants. So if gas prices can stay consistent throughout the summer, it can only help the restaurant industry’s good numbers continue on a positive track. Read the full article on Boston.com.
Spring: ‘Tis the Season of Gift Cards From Nation’s Restaurant News, Read Article
Spring is graduation season, which means many families will be heading out to a restaurant to celebrate. But it isn’t only graduation season, there is Mother’s Day and Father’s Day too. NRN explained many of the nation’s top restaurant chains are capitalizing on this opportunity by promoting the use of gift cards with incentives such as a free menu item or bounce-back coupon. Read full article on the NRN website.
Budweiser’s Design Change to Bottles From HuffPost Food, Read Article
For a limited time, Budweiser bottles will move away from their traditional design and will have a red, white and blue theme as a part of an initiative with the Folds of Honor Foundation. HuffPost Food reported a portion of sales from May 20 through July 7 (up to $2.5 million) will be donated to Folds of Honor. Read full article and check out the new design on HuffPost Food.
National Restaurant Association Show: Recap From Central Restaurant Products, Read Article
The National Restaurant Association Show was held from May 5-8 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. It’s a huge event that had over 1,800 exhibitors of the foodservice and hospitality industry. All the latest and greatest were there from innovative equipment and supplies to incredibly delicious foods. It’s an event for everyone in the industry to gain more product knowledge, network and of course, try amazing food. Check out a photo slideshow of Central’s visit and read our show recap.
Mother’s Day Restaurant Specials
We looked all over the web to find some of the deals going on this weekend for moms on Mother’s Day. If your restaurant has any special plans or promotions, please share with everyone below!
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.
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).
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 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?
What are restaurants doing to take precautions against spreading the swine flu, now known as the H1N1 virus?
According to an article in QSR Magazine, managers for the National Restaurant Association’s annual show in Chicago acknowledged the outbreak by placing about 140 hand-sanitizing stations on the show floor, as well as an information center, where visitors could ask questions about the virus.
What are restaurants doing to acknowledge the outbreak? Have there been staff meetings? Perhaps retraining on proper hand washing techniques? How many restaurants offer not just soap, but hand sanitizer to their customers? Are diners asking for it? Has the virus affected restaurant traffic?
According to a Gallup poll, 6% of Americans said on April 30 they did not go shopping or to a restaurant last week because of concerns about the H1N1 virus. Gallup did note that concerns about the virus have not yet affected consumer spending, at least here in the U.S.
For more resources and information, NRA and EcoLab released an H1N1 Toolkit to help prevent the spread of influenza viruses in restaurants.