What We Loved about the 100th National Restaurant Association Show
The 100th National Restaurant Association Show is in the books, and we’re back home reeling from the sights, sounds, and energy of the event! We had our booth set up, detailing a smarter restaurant experience, and how technology can help calm your kitchen, simplify workflows and delight guests. While we spent a lot of time in our booth, we did take some time, during and after the show, to reflect on what it had to offer. Here are some of our favorite things about NRA overall, and what we took home from this year’s show.
The Exhibitor Booths
Yes, NRA is a trade show, but given the bevy of decadent sights and smells, it might feel a bit more like a carnival. We saw exhibitor booths of every size and shape, some with slick video graphics and lighting, others featuring trays of steaming pastrami, frozen yogurt, and other delicious confectionaries. What we love most about NRA is the sheer variety of exhibitors. As the restaurant industry is incredibly multifaceted, including food, technology, staffing, marketing, packaging, and the like, we relished the opportunity to see how these different exhibitors showcased their featured products and services. We felt privileged to be in such elite company.
The Windy City
Every year, we look forward to attending the world’s largest restaurant show in an equally prestigious city! Boasting a strong, regionally-centric culinary identity, Chicago provides the perfect location for NRA. We always struggle to choose between the myriad options in dining and entertainment while we’re there. Still, we did our best to get a sampling of the city’s delights, and though we didn’t have time for a Cubs game, we managed to fit in bowling and dinner at Pinstripes, a trip to Portillo’s and of course, a smattering of world-famous Deep Dish pizza from Giordano’s!
The Delicious Food
If there’s an unspoken rule of NRA it’s this: Don’t eat before you come. If you’ve ever been, then you know that it’s here, all 1.2 million square feet (!) of the show floor, where many food vendors and exhibitors, excitedly show off their wares to all who pass by. Per usual, the samples flowed freely this year, to the degree that an enterprising individual could procure an entire gourmet meal, including drinks and dessert, just by walking around. Oh, And if you’re worried about extra calories, you might take some comfort knowing that on average, many members our team walked between 3-5 miles a day, on the show floor alone!
The Wonderful People
Having been in the industry for as long as we have, industry trade shows often feel like summer camp or a class reunion. We get to see our old friends and clients and catch up on everything since the last show. Additionally, the event hosts many opportunities to make new friends from all over the world, representing every facet of the restaurant sphere. Whether it was chatting with the folks who visited our booth or merely walking the trade show floor, we thoroughly enjoyed our chance to engage with NRA exhibitors and attendees. As our list of friends expands, we look forward to next year so we can add to it!
The Industry Knowledge
With so many professionals representing the industry, NRA always provides learning opportunities directly from an expert source. Whether it’s in educational sessions or from the conversations we had by walking around, we left feeling invigorated by the depth of knowledge and innovation we saw as we talked about industry trends, technology and all other components of this industry we love.
Given the range of opportunities and adventures we have every year, we’re already getting excited about next year’s event, and hope to see you there too!
Want to get the scoop on everything restaurant tech, marketing, industry news, and more? We’ll help. Subscribe to our blog to get weekly updates on the most buzzworthy restaurant industry topics.
About the Author
Amber Mullaney provides and guides all things marketing for QSR. A proud Texan native, she graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Public Relations and spent her career in the healthcare industry before making the switch to QSR, saying she loves a good challenge. Amber has a long list of things she loves, including tacos (especially tacos), sweet tea, Texas, the outdoors, and traveling with her husband and two daughters.