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    The 2019 NRA Show Preview

  • It’s the industry’s biggest conference, and the best source for inspiration and innovation—if you plan your trip right.

    National Restaurant Association
    It’s going to be a long—and informative—few days.

    Featured Sessions:

    The Future of Dining

    This year’s Signature, the Show’s most prominent session, will be moderated by Dawn Sweeney, President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association. It will be a conversation with CEOs from some of the most innovative quick-service, full-service, c-store, and grocery organizations. Randy Edeker from Hy-Vee, Tim McEnery from Cooper’s Hawk, and Chris Gheysens from Wawa will discuss their thoughts on where, when, what, and how people will dine in the coming years.

    • Who:

    • Dawn Sweeney, President & CEO, National Restaurant Association
    • Randy Edeker, Chairman & CEO, Hy-Vee
    • Tim McEnery, Founder, Cooper’s Hawk
    • Chris Gheysens, President & CEO, Wawa

    • Where:

    • Grand Ballroom (S100), South Hall

    • When:

    • May 19, 2 p.m.

    The Future of Restaurants

    From voice commands to robotics and automation, restaurants are becoming more high-tech—thus more frictionless, allowing technologies to do some of the heavy lifting once managed by a human. Both consumer-facing and back-of-house innovations are allowing restaurant to be more immersed in technology to ease operations and improve efficiencies, while also modernizing to win over guests. This year’s Super Session brings experts in restaurant tech together to walk the audience through technologies not widely used but already in place for these forward-thinking companies.

    • Who:

    • Christopher Thomas-Moore, VP of Global eCommerce & Digital Marketing, Domino’s
    • Allison Page, Chief Product Officer & Cofounder, SevenRooms
    • Melissa Burghardt, COO, Miso Robotics

    • Where:

    • Grand Ballroom (S100), South Hall

    • When:

    • May 20, 11 a.m.
    Saigon Sisters
    Saigon Sisters is a Chicago fast casal worth checking out. Here's 13 of them.

    Education Sessions:

    Ethnic Mash Ups for Every Customer

    Ethnic mash ups or spins on traditional dishes are everywhere. Reinventing classics can be done with small but impactful changes, and the protein used in dishes can make all the difference. See and learn how dishes can be transformed to offer more culturally enriched culinary experiences consumers are demanding.

    • Who:

    • Christopher Kline, Chef, Tyson

    • Where:

    • Culinary Experience Center: South Hall –

    Booth 2389

    • When:

    • May 18, 10:15 a.m.

    Create a Consistent Brand with Modern, Mobile Technology

    There are more ways than ever for customers to interact with a restaurant. Each touch point collectively drives an experience and a perception of your brand. The more touch points there are to monitor, the more difficult it becomes to ensure brand consistency. Learn from experts who have discovered the perfect formula of innovative solutions to achieve consistent employee and customer experience, energize and engage their employees, and modernize business operations.

    • Who:

    • Paul Bradley, Head of Product Management, PlayerLync
    • Kevin Hostetter, Director of Training, Auntie Anne’s
    • Scott Shotter, CEO, Back Yard Burgers
    • Micah Hardt, Director of Learning & Development, CEC Entertainment

    • Where:

    • Innovation Theater: North Hall - Booth 5575

    • When:

    • May 18, 11:30 a.m.

    Nutrition and Sustainability: The Best of Both Worlds on Your Menu

    From the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot research to local policy initiatives, sustainability and nutrition are becoming more important for restaurant brands. Learn how these two topics can be woven together to create an appealing food platform for your menus. Millennial and Gen Z customers in particular expect the restaurants they patronize to be more eco-friendly, so any successful brand should “future proof” their business by shifting toward sustainable and nutritious food options whenever possible.

    • Who:

    • Jeff Clark, Sustainability and Nutrition Manager, Membership Engagement Team, National Restaurant Association

    • Where: 

    • Learning Center: North Hall - Booth 7400

    • When:

    • May 18, 11 a.m.

    Digital Media Slam

    Digital tools are critical to build loyalty, manage online reviews, drive mobile orders, connect directly with customers, and so much more. Attend the Show’s new Digital Media Slam for rapid-fire presentations from great brands using digital media with great success.

    • Who:

    • Lynn Blashford, VP of Marketing, White Castle
    • Donna Josephson, SVP and CMO, Corner Bakery Café

    • Where:

    • World Culinary Showcase: Lakeside Center – Booth 10357

    • When:

    • May 18, 1:30 p.m.

    What Diners Want Today and What They Will Be Seeking Tomorrow

    You may think of Yelp as a review site, but it’s evolved into a lot more than that. Yelp knows where consumers are heading, their preference for menu items, and which restaurants are winning. Hear new insights powered by data from 100 million users and 1 billion restaurant searches.

    • Who:

    • Darnell Holloway, Director of Business Outreach, Yelp

    • Where:

    • Innovation Theater: North Hall - Booth 5575

    • When:

    • May 18, 2 p.m.

    Change in Company, Change in Perspective, or Both?

    The world seems to be getting faster every day, so finding new ways to mentally recharge are far and few between, yet more important than ever. Join Gabe Hosler, president of CHART, as he shares his personal stories, best practices, and tips and tricks that can be incorporated into your daily routine to both strengthen your personal health as well as your professional health. After many years in the same organization, Gabe changed companies, which doubled his commute, doubled his team, and doubled his workload. Amid all of the change, he took the opportunity to hit reset and re-prioritize. Although so much increased, his stress decreased and he was able to identify new opportunities to increase his work life balance. Find your new way to recharge and leave with a better approach to work/life balance. 

    • Who:

    • Gabe Hosler, VP of Operations Support & Training, Del Taco

    • Where:

    • Learning Center: North Hall - Booth 7400

    • When:

    • May 18, 2 p.m.

    How to Become an Employer of Choice

    As competition for restaurant guests gets fiercer, operators need to do the best job they can in recruiting and retaining top talent. How does a company establish itself as an employer of choice? Based on TDn2K’s recently published 2019 Recruiting and Turnover Survey, which captures the workforce practices of many of the industry’s largest operators, this session will share their most effective ways of attracting and retaining restaurant-level employees—front- and back-of-house and at the management level.

    • Who:

    • Victor Fernandez, VP of Insights & Knowledge, TDn2K

    • Where: 

    • Learning Center: North Hall - Booth 7400

    • When:

    • May 18, 3 p.m.

    Harnessing Technology to Drive Off-Premises Sales

    With the hype around delivery, takeout, curbside, and drive-thru innovation continuing to build momentum, supporting off-premises foodservice occasions in today’s on-demand environment is becoming a must for operators, but creates both opportunities—and challenges. This session examines research conducted by Technomic and the National Restaurant Association on factors driving the growth of key off-premises channels. Explore how operators of all sizes are harnessing technology to both drive and manage off-premises sales.

    • Who:

    • Hudson Riehle, SVP of Research & Knowledge Group, National Restaurant Association
    • Melissa Wilson, Principal, Technomic

    • Where:

    • Innovation Theater: North Hall - Booth 5575

    • When:

    • May 18, 3:30 p.m.

    Engaging Today’s Customer Through Cultural Intelligence

    Built primarily for unit-level and multi-unit managers, this session is designed to help employees, franchisees, and independent operators increase sales, reduce costs, and improve retention by learning to better engage multicultural employees and understand the nuances of managing multicultural customers’ expectations.

    • Who:

    • Gerry Fernandez, President & Founder, Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance

    • Where:

    • Learning Center: North Hall - Booth 7400

    • When:

    • May 18, 4 p.m.

    Modern Restaurant Accounting: Making the Shift from Cost Center to Trusted Operational Adviser

    Learn how modern technology is enabling accounting professionals to contribute in a meaningful way to increasing revenue, controlling food costs, and optimizing labor expenses—all while lowering the expense of that department. In an economic environment of ever-increasing regulation, competition, and rising labor costs, it has never been more important to have every department in alignment with what is most important.

    • Who:

    • Morgan Harris, Cofounder, Restaurant365

    • Where:

    • Innovation Theater: North Hall - Booth 5575

    • When:

    • May 18, 4:30 p.m.

    Telling the Story of Your Seafood: How to Avoid Mislabeling, Protect Your Reputation, and Achieve Sustainability

    Restaurateurs need to be aware of the consequences to their reputation of intentional or unintentional mislabeling of seafood on the menu. Besides the legal consequences, falsely describing a seafood item on a menu can lead to negative media exposure and a damaged reputation. Learn ways to avoid buying mislabeled seafood product or substituted species, and how to avoid menu mislabeling in this educational session.

    • Who:

    • Barton Seaver, Founder & Chief Education Officer, Coastal Culinary Academy
    • Rick Bayless, Chef & Owner, Frontera Grill, Topolobompo, & Lena Brava
    • Josephine Theal, Director of Category Management – Food, Delaware North

    • Where:

    • Learning Center: North Hall - Booth 7400

    • When:

    • May 19, 10 a.m.

    The Case for Opportunity Employment: How to Address Your Business Needs While Doing Good

    From McDonald’s recent Youth Opportunity initiative to MOD Pizza’s Second Chance hiring strategies to HMSHost’s employee recognition program to Hilton’s focus on veterans and military spouses, this conversation will focus on how investing in historically overlooked populations—throughout the hiring process and once employed—can meet employers’ talent needs while creating positive social outcomes.

    • Who:

    • Kimberly Shin, Associate Director of Impacting Hiring Initiative, FSG
    • Monica Tijerina, Director of Global Youth Program, McDonald’s
    • Laura FitzRandolph, EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer, HMSHost
    • Megan Hansen, SVP of People, MOD Pizza
    • Melissa Stirling, Senior Director of U.S. Military and Youth Programs, Hilton Worldwide

    • Where:

    • Innovation Theater: North Hall - Booth 5575

    • When:

    • May 19, 10 a.m.

    The Plant-Forward Boom

    Plant-based products are no longer a trend; consumers expect plant-based products as an alternative dining style. Don’t be left behind by not having these items on your menu. Explore how to create a unique and exciting offering of plant-based items your consumers will not only expect, but love.

    • Where:

    • Culinary Experience Center: South Hall – Booth 2389

    • When:

    • May 19, 10:15 a.m.

    Menu Forecast: 2020 and Beyond

    Restaurateurs face challenges on all fronts, from changing consumer demographics to proliferating competition to emerging technologies that are remaking the rules of customer relationships. One constant in the rapidly evolving marketplace has been the importance of the menu as the primary means of attracting and engaging diners. Contemporary menus must function as calling cards, image enhancers, and traffic drivers, and this presentation will look at strategies to accomplish all of these objectives by means of a fast-paced, comprehensive review of on-the-rise foods and flavors, preparation and presentation techniques that deliver the value that customers demand and help an operator stay on-trend.

    • Who:

    • Nancy Kruse, President, The Kruse Company
    • Lizzy Freier, Managing Editor, Menu Analysis, Technomic

    • Where:

    • World Culinary Showcase: Lakeside Center – Booth 10357

    • When:

    • May 19, 10:30 a.m.

    Juiced Up on Data: Why BI is the Secret Ingredient to Jamba Juice’s Success

    Restaurants generate vast amounts of data, but that data is meaningless unless you can turn it into something actionable. You can’t fix what you can’t see. Learn how Jamba Juice was able to improve data accuracy, streamline communications among departments, and reduce COGS by 6 percent through the use of business intelligence.

    • Who:

    • Paul Dodd, Senior Vice President, Compeat
    • Raul Celorio, Principal, ResureTek LLC

    • Where:

    • Innovation Theater: North Hall - Booth 5575

    • When:

    • May 19, 11:30 a.m.

    College Foodservice: What’s on the Menu Today and Tomorrow

    Campus feeders must meet the needs of a generation of socially aware students with sky-high expectations for quality, variety, and customization. But it’s not only important to meet the needs of today’s students; college foodservice operators also need to look ahead to the next generations that will soon hit their campuses. Find out how college foodservice operators balance current and future needs.

    • Who:

    • Robert Holden, Associate Vice President, Auxiliary Services, University of Georgia

    • Where:

    • Kitchen Innovations Showroom: South Hall – Booth 2440

    • When:

    • May 19, 12 p.m.

    A Common Sense Approach to Inclusion

    This session will highlight data-driven solutions to achieve inclusion in your organization to drive better business results, win the war for talent, and increase innovation and customer insights.

    • Who:

    • Wendy Lewis, Global Chief Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement Officer, McDonald’s

    • Where:

    • Learning Center: North Hall - Booth 7400

    • When:

    • May 19, 1 p.m.

    Igniting a Team of Top Performers

    Ever wonder why some restaurants seem to have an awesome staff while others continually struggle? Tired of the never-ending turnover and trying to attract applicants? Taking a page from fishing, you’ll learn how to “catch sharks” by creating a culture to attract those you want to work for you. Tactics covered in the session include creating a never-ending flow of qualified applicants, effective ads and recruiting tactics to fish in the right places, free effective training techniques to help “train until they can’t get it wrong” versus training until they get it right, and incentives to drive performance, sales, and employee retention.

    • Who:

    • TJ Schier, President, SMART Restaurant Group

    • Where:

    • BAR Stage: Lakeside Center – Booth 11

    • When:

    • May 19, 1 p.m.

    Creating Menus That Honor Their Origins

    An average experience and mediocre food won’t satisfy consumers. Meals are posted on social media when they hit the mark or when they fail to hit the mark. It has never been more important than right now to execute menu items that live up to the original conceived dish. Through proper equipment selection and preparation techniques, operators from all segments can convey a method authenticity.

    • Who:

    • Angelo Mojica, Senior Director of Food & Culinary Services,
    • Johns Hopkins Health System

    • Where:

    • Kitchen Innovations Showroom: South Hall – Booth 2440

    • When:

    • May 19, 1:30 p.m.

    Build a Better Burger: How to Raise Your Price Point but Not Your Labor

    Learn the science behind a profitable burger. The key to a great burger menu is balancing creativity and using versatile products. From burger bowls to the classics, spend some time grinding through your burger menu to create tasty, yet profitable offerings.

    • Who:

    • Janet Bourbon, Corporate Chef, Cargill Protein

    • Where:

    • Culinary Experience Center: South Hall – Booth 2389

    • When:

    • May 19, 1:45 p.m.

    Increase Draught Beer Profitability: How to Make More Money by Focusing on Draught Beer Quality

    Draught beer has the potential to be incredibly profitable. But if your draught system isn’t installed, maintained and operated correctly, the profit potential can go down the drain. This session will connect quality and profit through an analysis of equipment selection, technology, maintenance, beer styles, and more.

    • Who:

    • Neil Witte, Draught Quality Ambassador, Brewers Association

    • Where:

    • BAR Stage: Lakeside Center – Booth 11262

    • When:

    • May 19, 2 p.m.

    Creating a Beverage Menu for the Future

    This session will offer product and market insights in conjunction with real-world case studies to demonstrate strategies to enhance foodservice beverage offerings across categories that address consumers’ health and wellness concerns, while potentially saving shelf-space and increasing your margin. In addition, attendees will come away with an understanding of versatile ingredients and novel technologies to incorporate into their menu to help capture and retain a wider segment of consumers.

    • Who:

    • Andy Dratt, Chief Commercial Officer, Imbibe

    • Where:

    BAR Stage: Lakeside Center – Booth 11262

    • When:

    • May 20, 10 a.m.

    Inside Out: Workplace Culture and the Guest Experience

    A positive workplace where all employees feel included and respected translates into an amazing experience for your patrons. Beyond liability issues, restaurants that take measures to prevent harmful behavior like harassment and bias create a place where employees want to shine and where guests want to visit. This discussion will be led by the experts of ServSafe Workplace and include other industry professionals who have taken the right precautions to create and manage a successful and safe workplace of their own.

    • Who:

    • Elizabeth O’Brien, Product Manager, National Restaurant Association
    • Maggie Fiorentino, Product Manager – Lodging, National Restaurant Association
    • Nicole DaCosta, Learning & Development Leader, Brinker International

    • Where:

    • Innovation Theater: North Hall - Booth 5575

    • When:

    • May 20, 10 a.m.

    The Cloud Shift: Line-Busting, Kiosks, and Tableside Ordering for Enterprises

    Whether it’s hundreds of franchisees or a 20-unit operation, restaurants are making the necessary shift to cloud-based, modernized ordering and payment solutions. With tableside ordering, self-service kiosks, and handheld devices geared for line-busting, there are ample possibilities to not only increase your bottom line, but improve convenience and speed of service, as well.

    • Who:

    • Marina O’Rourke, VP of Technology, Tropical Smoothie Café
    • Kevin Anderson, Chief Strategy Officer, Appetize Technologies
    • Brian Whitney, VP of Sales, Appetize Technologies

    • Where:

    • Innovation Theater: North Hall - Booth 5575

    • When:

    • May 20, 11:30 a.m.

    A Fresh Taste of Foodservice Industry Trends and Innovative Food Safety Strategies to Power Your Performance

    Customized eating, food source traceability, food vendor management, zero waste—staying abreast of how these and other foodservice trends affect food safety in your operations can be tough and time-consuming. Join Dr. Ruth Petran, vice president of food safety and public health at Ecolab Inc., as she uncovers key emerging foodservice trends and provides insights on new control strategies to optimize your guest experience and your operations.

    • Who:

    • Ruth Petran, VP of Food Safety and Public Health, Ecolab Inc.

    • Where:

    • Learning Center: North Hall - Booth 7400

    • When:

    • May 20, 12 p.m.

    The New Era of Automation and Foodservice Tech: A Why-and-When Guide to Crucial Operational Investments

    Take a look at how foodservice tech innovations are helping operations of all sizes meet their most pressing challenges. In this new era of automation, get a glimpse of what a fully automated restaurant looks like. The session will include a panel discussion of the do’s and don’ts of foodservice tech investment. What are smart investments for your operation? When is it wise to invest, knowing new tech is always around the corner? And how can you make tech upgrades but still retain your human touch and brand integrity?

    • Who:

    • Jeff Cook, Chief Engineer, Restaurant Solutions Group, McDonald’s
    • Abhijeet Jadhav, Marketing Strategy Manager, Georgia-Pacific

    • Where:

    • Innovation Theater: North Hall - Booth 5575

    • When:

    • May 20, 12:30 p.m.

    Understanding the Buzz of Cannabis in Foodservice

    This session will explore the implications cannabis has for the foodservice industry by examining the current state of cannabis legalization in the U.S. and providing insight into Canada—the first industrialized nation to federally legalize recreational cannabis. The panel of experts will discuss opportunities in the industry for restaurateurs, potential liability concerns, and what’s next for the cannabis industry in the U.S. and abroad.

    • Who:

    Adam Hasley, Director of Advocacy Research & Insights, National Restaurant Association

    • Chris Sayegh, Chef & Owner, The Herbal Chef
    • Chad Finkelstein, Partner, Dale & Lessmann LLP
    • Scot Rutledge, Partner, Argentum Partners

    • Where:

    • Innovation Theater: North Hall - Booth 5575

    • When:

    • May 21, 1:45 p.m.
    istock
    There's no shortage of networking or educational opportunities.

    Want to get a first-hand look at some of the nation’s top chefs? Don’t miss these one-hour cooking demonstrations happening throughout the show at the World Culinary Showcase (Lakeside Center, Booth 10357).

    • Rick Bayless / Chef & Owner

    Frontera Grill, Topolobompo, & Lena Brava

    When: May 18, 10:30 a.m.

    • Abe Conlon / Chef & Co-Owner

    Fat Rice

    When: May 18, 12 p.m.

    • Anjula Devi and James Tagg / Chefs

    Manchester United

    When: May 18, 3:30 p.m.

    • Andrew Zimmern / Chef, Author, TV Host, & Teacher

    When: May 19, 1:30 p.m.

    • Diana Dávila / Chef & Owner

    Mi Tocaya Antojera

    When: May 20, 12 p.m.

    • Kari Underly / Master Butcher & Author

    When: May 20, 3 p.m.

    • Zach Engel / Executive Chef & Owner

    Galit

    When: May 21, 11 a.m.

    istock
    Be fashion-forward, but not at the expense of your ability to get around.

    Surviving Your First NRA Show

    Never been to foodservice’s premier annual event? No sweat. The team at QSR has you covered. Hereare some tips to make the best of your inaugural trip to McCormick.

    1. Make a personal itinerary ahead of time: Check out the full NRA Show schedule. Start with your top picks and then work your way down your own priority list. Overwhelmed by the girth of programming? Flip back to page 92 for our picks.

    2. Allow for spontaneity: While a detailed game plan is vital, so too is room for flexibility. One of the best parts of the show is alighting on something you didn’t expect to find, be it an exhibit, person, or presentation. Build in time to walk the show floor.

    3. Wear comfortable shoes: At 2.6 million square feet, McCormick Place is the nation’s largest convention center. Be fashion-forward, but not at the expense of your ability to get around. Band-aids aren’t a bad idea, too.

    4. Graze over eating craze: It shouldn’t come as a shock that a restaurant industry conference has no shortage of food. To that end, be sure to pace yourself lest you need to make a beeline for Pepto at the First Aid station (it happened to one of our staffers).

    5. Work now, BAR later: Just because you bought tickets to the BAR exhibit doesn’t mean you need to start your day with a Bloody Mary. Wait until you’ve checked off your more important engagements before imbibing.

    6. Have a meeting location: WiFi and cellular service has increased significantly in recent years, but with more than 60,000 people vying for a connection, it can still be spotty. Have a meeting location set with colleagues ahead of time should the network fail you.

    7. Download the app: Even if the NRA Show’s proprietary app doesn’t house your itinerary, it can be handy for last-minute schedule changes and exhibit layout.

    8. Err on the early side: McCormick is not to be underestimated in either its size or its ease of navigation. Exhibit numbers (located on the floor) can be easily missed, and special presentation areas seem to follow no rhyme or reason in their numbering. Allow yourself plenty of time to make your next engagement.

    9. When in doubt, ask the info people: They can be found in the hallway between the North and South Hall and are more than happy to help you get around.

    10. Walk a few blocks or hop on the L: Each day when the show lets out, traffic clogs in the immediate vicinity. If that taxi or bus queue looks especially daunting, walk a few blocks down to increase your chances of catching a Lyft. Or if you’re in need of some fresh air, walk a mile to the Cermak-McCormick Place stop on the L.

    11. Get some sleep: For many, downtime is nonexistent at the NRA Show, making sleep all the more important. Don’t brag that you can run the floors by day and party at night, because that momentum flags after two days and you’ve got four total. Remember: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.