This past weekend, a group of Burkett Restaurant Equipment employees trekked to Chicago to attend the 2013 National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show. This was my first experience at an industry trade show and all I have to say is, WOW. I had my priorities as the Social Media Manager: take pictures, tweet, and have fun. I think I more than managed to master each.
Despite being a self-proclaimed wordsmith, I’m not sure I have the right adjectives to accurately describe the sheer magnitude of this show. Spanning two halls and multiple floors, the size was astonishing. Vendors, manufacturers, inventors – if it was related to the foodservice industry, it was there.
We walked every aisle, stopped at nearly every booth, and talked and ate… and talked and ate. As a vegetarian dabbling with the idea of going gluten free (high maintenance, I know) I was pleased to see that there were quite a few options for me to stuff myself, even with a restricted diet. And the desserts…OH MY desserts! Remember the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? That’s how I felt at the NRA Show. Every turn there were gourmet coffees, delicious treats and enticing smells. Turn to the right and you’ll find a state-of-the-art juicing system. Turn to the left and you’re presented with the True Manufacturing booth and endless rows of best in class refrigeration.
We stopped by the Mozo booth where I was struck with shoe envy. I’m eagerly anticipating the Farmer’s Market Collection, available this summer. How did I not know about those adorable yet work-appropriate shoes when I was waitressing?
We then passed through what I dubbed the “Tech Side” of the hall. I’m not an overly techie person. I like my modern day conveniences as much as the next 30-something. I would have never guessed the huge impact that technology is having on the foodservice industry. From online reservations, to point of service tablets, to touchscreen onsite feedback devices from Humm, the way we do business is radically changing with technology.
By the end of the weekend, I was full of information and caffeinated ice cream and couldn’t wait to tell you all about my positive experience. If you’re in the industry, I encourage you to attend at least one NRA Show. There is so much to learn and see. After just two days, I realized that despite a rocky economy the foodservice industry is continually pushing the envelope on innovation and success.