What To See At The 2016 National Restaurant Association, Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago

The 2016 National Restaurant Association Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show with record-breaking attendance starts today in Chicago. Foodservice professionals from around the world attend the world-class industry show to observe the latest trends in the foodservice industry from ingredients, advancements in restaurant technology, kitchen gadgets and more.

The 2016 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the most comprehensive trade show for the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry in the U.S. and abroad; BAR (Beverage Alcohol for Restaurants) at the NRA Show takes place within the NRA Show and showcases the latest in wine, spirits, and beer through tastings, pairings, seminars and more to elevate any beverage program.

Restauranteurs must attend these key events at the 2016 NRA Show:

  • Sunday, May 22 at 2 p.m., Grand Ballroom (S100), Signature ’16: Turn the Tables: For the first time ever, the NRA Show invites attendees to be part of the conversation between some of the brightest minds in the business on Sunday, May 22 at 2 p.m. Signature ’16 sparks a pointed conversation about where things are headed—in business models, customer service and technology. Join NRA President & CEO Dawn Sweeney to ask the tough questions to these industry game changers and deliver real answers. Speakers include: The Kitchen’s Kimbal Musk, Red Robin President Denny Marie Post and Uber Everything’s Jason Droege.


  • Sunday, May 22 and Monday, May 23, Lakeside Ballroom, BAR at the NRA Show: Co-located within the NRA Show, BAR (Beverage Alcohol for Restaurants) features the ways that beverage alcohol enhances restaurant and foodservice menus and brands. Explore Demo Lounges, Restaurant Menu Pairings, the annual Star of the Bar competition, as well as the latest products in wine, beer, spirits and more.
  • Sunday, May 22 at 11 a.m., BAR Keynote Address: Join Rockit Ranch Productions Founder and CEO Billy Dec as he discusses staying profitable and popular in the fickle bar and restaurant industry—where trends come and go in the blink of an eye. As BAR 16 keynote speaker, he has shown no sign of slowing down as a trailblazing trendsetter.
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    • Sunday, May 22 at 4:30 p.m., Main Stage, Star of the Bar Finalist Competition: Six top mixologists from across the country will head to Chicago to vie for the title of Star of the Bar during BAR at NRA Show 2016 this May. New this year, finalists will take the stage individually to showcase their signature drinks from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. before going head to head during the finals at 4:30 p.m.
    • Monday, May 23 at 8:30 a.m., Room S106, Non-Commercial Conference: Non-commercial sales are on track to top $59 million this year, which is a 2.6% rise over 2015. How are you keeping up? Learn how to do it right at this new conference that tackles issues ranging from food sourcing, concept development and adapting to ever shifting palates.
    • Monday, May 23 at 8:30 a.m., Room S105, Foodservice at Retail (FS@R) Conference: Retail operators can’t miss the new Foodservice at Retail Conference, an all-day conference specifically addressing challenges retail operators face when adding foodservice to retail operations. Additionally, attendees will be immersed into learning as they travel offsite to visit Mariano’s: Foodservice in action.
    • Monday, May 23 at 10:30 a.m., Grand Ballroom (S100), Reality Gets Real: Chef Robert Irvine and Jon Taffer: National Restaurant Association Chief Innovation and Member Advancement Officer Phil Kafarakis will moderate a conversation between Chef Irvine and Mr. Taffer as they discuss the common pitfalls they have seen and how to identify and address them before they become critical; provide perspective on what it takes to pull an operation back from the brink of failure; share anecdotes about the incredible diversity they’ve experienced in the industry.


  • Monday, May 23 from 12:30-5:30 p.m., Main Stage, BAR Mixology Demos: For the first year ever, the industry’s leading mixologists and spirits brand ambassadors take over BAR’s Main Stage to demonstrate this year’s hottest trends, techniques and flavors.


    • Monday, May 22 at 9 p.m., Restaurants Rocks: Restaurants Rock, presented by Budweiser, is the official after-party of NRA Show and the best industry bash of the year. Tickets are almost sold out. Log in to your registration to add a ticket to the party for only $99 while they are still available! Ticket price includes admission and open bar. Also, just announced is this year’s live entertainment is kind of a big deal—American Authors, the buzz worthy Brooklyn-based rock band who took the music world by storm with their triple-platinum #1 hit “Best Day Of My Life.”
    • Monday, May 23 at 9:30 p.m., NRA Show Block Party: On Monday, May 23 from 9:30 p.m. to midnight, Chicago’s hippest bars, restaurants and clubs open their doors to serve up free food and drinks along with entertainment for NRA Show attendees.
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  • World Culinary Showcase (each day): Education becomes entertainment at the World Culinary Showcase, where celebrity chefs stand up in front of their own industry and demonstrate the techniques and prowess that catapulted them to the spotlight. World-class celebrity chefs will dish out culinary expertise at the World Culinary Showcase. The World Culinary Showcase will run all four days of the Show.


  • Foodamental Studio (each day): Foodamental Studio will take place each day during the Show. This hugely popular series of hands-on workshops let attendees roll up their sleeves with the experts and try out the processes and techniques behind today’s hottest trends. Check out last year’s videos here.



  • Bellavita Italian Pavillion (Lakeside Center): Bellavita is the largest Made-in-Italy Food & Wine Expo outside of Italy. It’s a brand new, co-located event making its U.S. debut at NRA Show. Entrance to Bellavita is included with your Show badge. Taste undiscovered treasures from artisan producers, as well as the brands that made Italian food known all over the world. Attendees can sample authentic ingredients and dishes to add to menus as well as participate in master classes hosted by the finest top chefs and sommeliers from Italy.


  • Internet of Things (Booth 5662): What is the “Internet of Things” and how does it impact your operation? We’re teaming up with Microsoft to bring you a fully immersive experience that not only explains the Internet of Things, but it shows you how to make it work for your operation from mobile apps and front of house management tools to smart kitchens.
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  • FABI (Food and Beverage) Awards (Throughout Show Floor): The 26 winners represent today’s leading food trends from new takes on gluten-free and vegetarian alternatives to local sourcing initiatives, including black bean spaghetti, vegetarian gyros, volcanic water and more. Access photos of the winners here.


    • Kitchen Innovation Awards (Booth #2440): Honors equipment and technologies that increase productivity for back of the house operations and benefit restaurant operators. The 25 selected innovations specifically address: water and energy efficiency, food safety, sanitation, cross-functionality, and space saving. Find out how these innovations make your kitchen better, safer and more efficient.Access photos of the winners here.


  • Explore specialty pavilions such as:
  • Alternative Bitestyles: Products and ingredients for vegetarian, vegan, low sodium, gluten-free and allergy needs that make menu modification easy.
  • Organic & Natural: An oasis of organic, natural products and labels ingredient-savvy consumers want to see on your menu.
  • Conserve Solution Center: Sustainable products lower costs, waste, energy use and environmental impact, in addition to attracting eco-minded guests.
  • Startup Alley: Introduced in 2015, Startup Alley is where we’re showcasing a slew of creative, innovative startups that are poised to make a big impact in the industry.
  • Tech Pavilion: Top-to-bottom tech including mobile apps, mobile payment, POS, digital signage, data-driven solutions and more to improve transaction speed, communication, efficiency, and cost.
  • Main Stage at BAR (Sunday and Monday): Catch special education sessions geared towards helping develop better promotions and more effective marketing, interactive demos showcasing how to turn trends into hot menu items, and cheer on contestants vying for the title of Star of the Bar.
  • Craftique Pavilion at BAR (Sunday and Monday): Focusing on limited-production producers you won’t find just anywhere, this pavilion delivers a concentration of individual distilleries, breweries, and wineries customers love to discover and taste.