Perhaps the largest annual gathering of restaurateurs, the 2014 National Restaurant Association show was once again the place to be for those looking to keep up on industry trends.
The 95th NRA show was held recently at Chicago’s McCormick Place and recorded positive growth in both attendee and exhibitor numbers for the third year in a row, NRA executives say.
The tradeshow floor buzzed with innovation while speakers in educational session discussed cutting-edge trends, such as a movement toward fresh ingredients, using technology to drive consumer engagement and catering to those with special dietary needs.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson delivered the keynote address, telling attendees that he learned early on in his business career that a clear understanding of his customers would be critical to success. “Everything I do is about the customer. It’s never about me; it’s always about my customer,” Johnson said.
According to the NRA, 63,876 people attended the show, 10.5% more than attended in 2011. A total of 2,168 exhibitors managed more than 612,000 square feet of meeting space, demonstrating new products and connecting with operators.
The dining scene in Chicago surely benefitted from hosting the show as many in the industry took to the streets to experience some of the best chefs in the country.