The Greatest (Restaurant) Show On Earth!

Juan Martinez previews this year's NRA Show.

Just like children eagerly awaiting an annual holiday, such as Christmas or Halloween, foodservice professionals anxiously look forward to the National Restaurant Association’s trade show, which runs May 17-20 in Chicago.

If you are on the same e-mail lists as I am, show organizers don’t seem to be missing any opportunities to let us know what the annual event has to offer. Some examples include:

This year’s show even features big name speakers like retired basketball star and entrepreneur Magic Johnson. (But if you want to see Magic, make sure that you arrive early and get in the likely very long line to get in.)

As if that were not enough, there’s plenty to see and do before and after hours outside of the convention center. For example, I will participate in the Fast-Casual Awards Banquet, alongside Giardino Gourmet Salads, a concept that we are doing some work with. And who can forget the 2014 Dealer of the Year and Industry Awards Gala, which FE&S will host on May 17. I have the pleasure of attending this event each year and can tell you that Maureen Slocum, Joe Carbonara and the rest of the FE&S team do not miss a beat in delivering a top-notch and classy industry gathering, not to mention the free entertainment that they provide when they take the stage. Many professional societies also host networking events, including the Sunday, May 18 gathering hosted by FCSI-The Americas’ Midwest Chapter. As a professional member of FCSI, I hold that event near and dear to my heart.

And if that was not enough, the stage is set by Chicago, one of the greatest cities in the United States, with superb entertainment and great restaurants. Considering the industry we are in, I consider the latter a perk.

JuansBlog-001A word of advice about the show: Plan your days and what you want to get accomplished during the show. Our team often adopts a divide-and-conquer approach, where each person looks at a certain category of items and then reports back to the group. This allows us to maximize our overall participation in this can’t-miss industry event.

Pay attention to what the show has to offer, even the smallest (in size) of items, like smallwares, that could increase the efficiency of operations by facilitating an optimum work station design. Having the right items in the right place at the right time in a work station is critical to foodservice staff as they strive for optimal execution across all operating parameters: processes, procedures, place design, people deployment, product quality, products and promotions.

It would be great to connect with the various FE&S readers to talk about industry matters of interest. I am always looking for topics to write about in my column.

Cheers to a great show! See you in Chicago.

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