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NRA Show kicks off in Chicago

Now in its 99th year, event draws marquee speakers and latest restaurant innovations

This is part of NRN’s special coverage of the 2018 NRA Show, being held in Chicago, May 19-22. Visit for the latest coverage from the show, plus follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

More than 67,000 restaurant industry professionals are expected to converge on Chicago this weekend for the 99th National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, organizers said this week. 

The association’s annual event, which runs Saturday through Tuesday, will feature sessions that include a 2 p.m. Sunday presentation by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and an ensuing stage discussion with Dawn Sweeney, NRA CEO and president, as well as in-depth presentations on such topics as sea vegetables and cannabis and the restaurant industry. 

“Rice will undoubtedly impart invaluable insights into global events and the impact those changes and issues have in the United States and abroad,” said Dickie Brennan, convention chair and owner/managing partner of the New Orleans, La.-based Dickie Brennan & Co., which owns and operates Tableau, Palace Café, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse and Bourbon House.

In addition to educational sessions, more than 2,300 companies will be exhibiting restaurant products and equipment in more than 695,000 square feet of space at the McCormick Place convention center.

National Restaurant Association

Some highlights on the schedule include: 

- A “Super Session” at 11 a.m. Monday will focus on “The Future of Restaurants,” featuring global futurist and innovation expert Daniel Burrus; John Miller, CEO of CaliBurger and Cali Group; and John Ha, CEO of Bear Robotics. “Penny the Robot” is also scheduled to attend.

- Billy Beane, executive vice president of baseball operations for the Oakland A’s and author of “Moneyball,” and Jon Taffer, entrepreneur and host of the reality series “Bar Rescue,” will lead sessions at the inaugural event-within-an-event Restaurant Revenue Growth Conference, scheduled for Sunday and Monday.

- Innovative new equipment recognized with the NRA’s 2018 Kitchen Innovations Awards will be showcased in the Kitchen Innovations Showroom, displaying new efficiencies and productivity for back-of-the-house operations.

- Thirty-six new products for restaurant menus honored with the 2018 Food and Beverage (FABI) Awards will be recognized and highlighted throughout the exhibit halls.

- Returning for a fourth year is the Startup Alley, featuring new companies serving the restaurant industry, especially in the technology area.

The NRA Show 2018 website offers information, schedules and registration information.


Follow Nation’s Restaurant News’ editors on Twitter and Instagram at the NRA Show:

Gloria Dawson @GloriaDawson (Twitter) and @gloriacdawson (Instagram)

Lisa Jennings @livetodineout (Twitter) and @Jenningsswaine (Instagram)

Nancy Luna @fastfoodmaven (Twitter) and @fastfoodmaven (Instagram)

Anna Kang @euphoric_eats (Twitter) and @euphoric_eats (Instagram)

Ron Ruggless @RonRuggless (Twitter) and @RonRuggless (Instagram)

Jenna Telesca @JennaTelesca (Twitter) and @JennaTelesca (Instagram)

Bret Thorn @foodwriterdiary (Twitter) and @foodwriterdiary (Instagram)


Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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