At 9:00 this morning, the 87th annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show opened its doors to restaurant professionals from around the globe.

The immediate big news for attendees is that, for the first time in 20 years, exhibitor booth space is completely sold out. Translation: more than 2,100 exhibiting companies on premises at Chicago’s cavernous McCormick Place. That’s obviously a good thing for the association, but it’s also great for the 73,000 attendees expected to visit the four-day gathering, since it means more products, services, and ideas to explore.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for operators to improve their businesses by exploring the latest and best the hospitality world has to offer,” says Steven Anderson, president of the NRA.

Watch this space over the course of the next four days for dispatches from the show, as we highlight what NRA 2006 has to offer for quick-service and fast-casual operators.