NRA Show 2013 Recap

The National Restaurant Association show is a bit of a blur in my rear-view mirror.  Just a couple years ago, one could buzz through both wings of the exhibit hall in a day and still have time to check out one or two of the speakers.  This year, however, my 30 hours didn’t allow me nearly enough time to do justice to the show.  Judging by the expanded size of the show and the increased number of visitors, the restaurant industry seems to be in full recovery mode.

Before I tell you what I liked, I’ll let you know what I didn’t get to see. I missed out on the coolest booth at the show, but did manage to check out a video that showed it. These guys have come up with a misting system that drops the temperature by 20°.  If it ever gets warm here in Minnesota again, I will remember to call these guys. I also missed all the celebrity chefs – Rick Bayless, Anthony Bourdain, and the Ace of Cakes. I heard that Mario Andretti was there as well in the Go Daddy booth, but I am not sure what he has to do with the restaurants or building websites anyway.  Next year!

Once I got my bearings, I did check out all the new automated label printers. The cream of the crop is clearly the Avery 9417.  This updated version of the 9415 has an intuitive touch screen technology that makes the printing of date labels fast and simple. There are others trying to occupy this space, but with this long-awaited introduction, Avery has a significant head start on the competition.

Another interesting sighting was the Sysco booth. It was their first appearance after an 8-year hiatus. Hanging above their space was the familiar logo and tagline, “Good things come from Sysco”, except “Good” was crossed off and “New” was inserted.  Given their recent focus on growing their business through a more aggressive sales partnership with their vendors, it was no surprise that the booth was staffed by their executive sales team. With their recent sponsorship of Robert Irvine and their new commercials perhaps their new slogan might be “Different things come from Sysco”.  We will see how this plays out, but I think they are on the right track.

There were several other cool things to see at the show, but next year, I plan to spend more time.  There is so much to absorb that you really need to immerse yourself in the spectacle of it all.  And if I get overheated, I’ll just look for that booth to cool off a bit.

What did you see that you liked at the show this year?



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