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7 Must-See Highlights at the National Restaurant Association Show 

7 Must-See Highlights at the National Restaurant Association Show 

Picture of Denise Prichard

Denise Prichard

Gear up for a flavor-filled adventure and unparalleled networking opportunities at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. Don’t miss out on these top highlights that will redefine industry standards and take your business to new heights.

Are you ready to tantalize your taste buds, expand your culinary horizons, and connect with the brightest minds in the foodservice industry? Get ready because the countdown to the National Restaurant Association Show is on! From May 18th to 21st, McCormick Place in Chicago will transform into the epicenter of gastronomic innovation and industry networking, hosting the largest gathering of foodservice professionals in the western hemisphere. 

Get ready to dive into world-class programming and education designed to deliver impactful learnings, exciting experiences, and inspiring speakers—all curated to help you and your business thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of the foodservice industry. 

Now, you might be wondering, what are the absolute must-sees? Let’s dive in and uncover the key highlights of this year’s agenda. 

1. See what José Andrés is dishing up in his Keynote

Get ready to be inspired at the 2024 Restaurant Show Keynote with acclaimed chef, restauranteur, and humanitarian, José Andrés. Known for his innovative flair in both the culinary and humanitarian arenas, José will ignite your passion with stories from his global adventures in both the kitchen and the community. As the founder of World Central Kitchen, he’ll reveal the secrets behind building sustainable food systems and empowering communities through nourishment. Make sure not to miss this session, where José will showcase how food can wield its transformative power, inspiring you to become a catalyst for change in the world.

2. Spice up success with AI, automation, and big data

Are you looking for ways to turn data into profits? Join Co-Founder & Chief Customer Advocate of Restaurant365, Morgan Harris, and VP of Operations Services of Honeygrow, John Paul (JP), in their session, Turn Data into Dollars: How AI, Automation & Big Data Will Drive Restaurant Success. For today’s restaurants, efficiency is more important than ever. While many emphasize front-of-house operations, the future lies in integrating back-office and back-of-house AI and automation. This session will dive into leveraging existing data to enhance sales forecasting, AI-driven invoice management, task allocation, and manager communications for swift decision-making. 


What is the Average Profit Margin for a Restaurant?

3. Whip up some profits courtesy of a Top Chef

Join Rich Sweeney, former San Diego chef and Top Chef contestant, alongside Aaron Alexander, solutions engineer for Restaurant365, in their session: Profit Pros: Menu Engineer Your Way to Better Margins. Find out how to navigate the economic challenges faced by restaurants and take control of your destiny. Discover the secrets of menu engineering, including optimizing your offerings for maximum profitability, diagnosing and addressing thinning margins, and implementing strategic pricing adjustments. Learn how to captivate diners and boost sales with psychological tactics and scientific menu design principles. Don’t miss this opportunity to elevate your restaurant’s profitability.  

4. Dig into the future of the foodservice industry

Get a glimpse of the future of the restaurant industry, where endless possibilities await in this ever-changing landscape. Picture robots seamlessly integrated into daily operations and drones delivering orders to customers’ doorsteps. And let’s not forget about the rising popularity of plant-based proteins, reshaping the way we dine.   

Don’t miss Journey to 2030 – Forecasting the Future of Foodservice for an enlightening conversation led by Technomic and industry experts. This session will cover the potential opportunities, challenges, and the thrill of the unknown. By the end of this journey, you’ll be equipped with valuable insights and strategies to steer your restaurant towards success in the years to come. 

5. Taste the profits with Restaurant365's latest innovations

Explore the latest exciting product updates from Restaurant365, designed to elevate your operations. These guided solutions seamlessly drive consistency, compliance, and profitability across multiple locations. Visit us at booth #6227 to discover innovations that ensure every action produces meaningful outcomes, driving profit in your restaurant experience.  

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s new: 

Boost performance with Employee Training

  • Build and distribute tailored training courses swiftly using a mobile app. 
  • Ensure consistent excellence by training your team to deliver brand standards. 
  • Streamline training for managers and staff with a simple interface. 
  • Foster employee loyalty with opportunities for skill development, reducing turnover and labor costs in a sustainable workplace. 

Achieve operational excellence

  • Empower managers with guided tasks, freeing up time for floor operations. 
  • Keep district managers informed while freeing store managers from manual reporting. 
  • Enhance consistency and productivity by delegating tasks to specific departments or teams. 

Ditch manual tasks & spreadsheets with
automated tip calculations and payment distribution

  • Save time by automating tip calculations and eliminating manual tasks. 
  • Ensure precise payroll processing with flexible tip rules. 
  • Build trust with employees through automated distribution and ensure compliance with tipping policies. 

Fuel restaurant growth with dynamic data:

  • Access key data effortlessly for informed decision-making. 
  • Analyze POS, sales, and labor metrics to boost the bottom line. 
  • Visualize data for clear insights and actionable guidance. 

6. Savor the fun at the Industry Night Out

Join your peers for an unforgettable evening of celebration and networking. Get ready to experience the industry’s hottest event at Time Out Market, where Chicago’s top chefs, trendiest restaurants, and most happening bars come together under one roof. 

Located in the vibrant Fulton Market District, this curated dining destination offers a selection of culinary delights and beverages, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy. From mouthwatering dishes to handcrafted cocktails, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to “Taste the Market” and discover some exciting surprises from sponsors. 

Mark your calendars for Monday, May 20th, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., for an evening of fun and flavor at Time Out Market (916 W Fulton Market). Tickets are available exclusively to foodservice operators for $100. 

7. Mix it up with live demos from expert chefs and mixologists

Experience the expertise of celebrated chefs and beverage experts as they showcase their mastery. Join culinary leaders, mixologists, and industry innovators at the forefront of their craft. Witness captivating demonstrations, insightful discussions on industry trends, and the latest innovations in food and beverage.  

You won’t want to miss the chance to see demos from experts like: 

  • Chef Rick Bayless, an award-winning chef known for his culinary mastery and keen business insights. 
  • Lynnette Marrero, an award-winning mixologist that will help you break out of the same old food & wine pairings and bring your culinary cocktail game to the next level.  
  • Chef Jeff Mauro, prepare to be amazed as this Emmy-Nominated and winner of The Next Food Network Star graces the stage to cook up some culinary magic live before your very eyes. 
  • …and so many more!  

Wrapping it up

And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the happenings at the National Restaurant Association Show. From captivating keynote speeches to insightful sessions on the latest trends and innovations in the industry, there’s something for everyone at this premier event. With so much to see and experience, we’re looking forward to seeing you there! 

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