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Published on : Saturday, May 23, 2015
The 96th annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show and the co-located BAR (Beverage Alcohol for Restaurants) at NRA Show, recently held at Chicago’s McCormick Place on May 16-19, posted record exhibit space and a 3% uptick in registration in the key buyer category of restaurant and foodservice operators.
As the most comprehensive event for the foodservice industry, NRA Show/BAR 2015 brought a diverse range of industry segments together under one roof. In addition to thousands of independent and chain restaurateurs, NRA Show attendance included 100% of the top 50 restaurant brands in the world; 98 of the top 100 restaurant brands; non-commercial representation from Compass, Aramark, Sodexo, Delaware North and Centerplate; dealer and distributor representation from Sysco, US Foods, TriMark, Wasserstrom and Edward Don; and retail representation from Publix, Kroger, Mariano’s, Whole Foods, Wawa and Sheetz.
“The energy of the show this year was great – everyone I talked to was just thrilled,” said Gary Zickel, director of foodservice operations for Mariano’s Fresh Market and co-owner of Wood and Salero restaurants. “I work NRA Show as both a restaurateur and as a grocer and I found so many things this year that fit all of my various needs. I found new products to bring to market and items that will help me better control costs. I discovered things that will solve problems that I’ve been working on for ages. For example, after two years of bringing in suppliers to create a gelato cup that would hold the right amount of product for me, it was at NRA Show 2015 that I found what I needed.”
“I was blown away by the number of executives I saw right from the start of the Show,” said Howard Bender, Founder and Owner of Schmaltz Deli, which makes and exhibited Schmacon at NRA Show 2015. “Multi-unit executives, international multi-unit executives – many of whom visited us last year when we were a start-up – came back ready to buy.”
At more than 637,000 square feet, total exhibit space grew by more than 8% and exceeded the previous NRA Show record of 629,878 that was set in 2000. 2015 was also the first year that NRA Show exhibit space spanned across three discrete buildings – McCormick Place’s North Building, South Building and Lakeside Center.
More than 63,000 total registrants hailed from all 50 states and 100+ countries. The Restaurant and Foodservice Operator registration category saw the highest percentage of growth at 3%, followed by the Lodging category with an increase of 2%.
Registration for BAR increased by more than 9% over 2014, bringing total registration to more than 5,000 for the first time since the co-located event’s inception.
“Across all three halls and all four days of NRA Show and BAR, the optimism of the restaurant and hospitality industry could be felt around every corner,” said John Metz, Jr., 2015 NRA Convention Chair and Executive Chef, CEO and Co-founder of Marlow’s Tavern. “The energy and excitement of our industry coming together to shop, learn, connect and discover was palpable in every conversation, transaction and presentation that took place here.”
This year’s event featured three Keynote Presentations by industry leaders.