Come May 21–24, you’ll be joining industry professionals from all 50 states and more than 100 countries, testing products from more than 1,800 exhibitors, and discovering everything you could possibly need to know at more than 70 free education sessions.

The best part? The National Restaurant Association Show all takes place under one roof.

Sample new foods, preview the hottest products on the market, and learn about everything from green industry practices to the latest trends in menu development straight from the industry’s best. And make sure to stop by and visit QSR at booth No. 4861!

Located right along Lake Michigan in Chicago and just minutes away from all of the sounds, sights, hustle, and bustle of The Windy City, the show offers you the chance to fit in both work and play after the floors close at 5 p.m.

Education Sessions


10–11:30 a.m.

Food & Healthy Living


Catherine Adams Hutt, president and CEO of RdR Solutions Consulting, provides an understanding of the process that brought the menu-labeling legislation to life, the implications for restaurants, and insights on how nutrition information may or may not influence consumer behavior.

Noon–1:30 p.m.



Steve Teller, project manager for Five Guys, and Noah Glass, CEO of OLO Online Ordering, discuss the online ordering option that increased the chain’s average order size by 32 percent over call-in orders. The session will also focus on successful remote-ordering strategies, including integrating suggestive selling and social media with remote transactions.

2–3:30 p.m.

Food & Healthy Living


Learn how the changes in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines will affect restaurants and consumers. Panelists include Wendy Kapsak, senior director of health and wellness of the International Food Information Council; Robert Post, deputy director of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion; Erica Bohm, vice president of Healthy Dining; and Joy Dubost, director of nutrition and food for the NRA.

Profitability & Entrepreneurship


Learn the seven key ideas needed to adapt menus for today’s value-driven customer, while avoiding costly mistakes. A panel of experts will discuss topics including menu printing, layout and design, pricing, tracking, and using menu engineering for bottom line results.


10–11:30 a.m.

Jobs & Careers


Managers’ performances are vital to a successful business, and a crucial component to successful management is strong leadership. Gail Lyman, director of people services for First Hospitality Group, will explain how to identify true leaders, develop leadership skills, and define leadership in terms of tangible goals and tasks.

Noon–1:30 p.m.

Profitability & Entrepreneurship


Learn how to integrate conventional loyalty programs with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and other social media applications. Join BJ Emerson, vice president of technology at Tasti D-Lite, to discover how the chain is allowing customers to share their loyalty activity online and receive tangible benefits through social-friendly POS applications and its TastiRewards program.

Jobs & Careers


By 2012, one of every three employees will be over the age of 50 and your next wave of staff prospects will be Baby Boomers. Join Blair Chancey, editor of QSR magazine; Mike Amos, president of CHART; Barry Flink, executive vice president of Flex HR; and Brent Alvord, president of Lenny’s Sub Shop, to learn how to recruit, manage, and inspire this unique demographic.

2–3:30 p.m.

Sustainability/Social Responsibility


Don Fisher, president and CEO of Fisher-Nickel, and Richard Young, senior engineer and director of education for the Food Service Technology Center, will demonstrate how to use the NRA’s online education and recognition program—Conserve—to start down a greener path and achieve positive results.


10–11:30 a.m.

Profitability & Entrepreneurship


This seminar translates big-brand strategies into an action plan to make stronger businesses both now and over the long term. Gerald O’Brion, former vice president of marketing at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Quiznos, will help re-examine why differences in competitors matter to consumers. The presentation will include case studies and information to immediately put to work to build business like the “big guys.”



McDonald’s senior director of marketing, Dan Williams, will share how digital menuboards have increased customer engagement, achieved greater promotional effectiveness, and simplified management of its McCafé brand. Williams and Chris Riegel, CEO of Stratacache, will show how McDonald’s is using these menuboards to fine-tune marketing, meet menu labeling laws, and go green.

Noon–1:30 p.m.

Jobs & Careers


Join Janet Hoffmann, president of Hoffmann and Associates, to learn how to recruit, develop, engage, and communicate with employees through social media. Explore popular social media tools, learn how to incorporate them into workplace practices to gain a competitive edge, and hear from companies using social media successfully inside their organizations.

2–3:30 p.m.

Jobs & Careers


Ensure that your staff consistently creates the experiences that produce rave reviews and keeps customers coming back. Dorothy Frisch, owner of Polished Service Consulting, will share ways to add value to customers without adding costs, while developing a “culture of service” that all employees can embrace.


10–11:30 a.m.

Sustainability/Social Responsibility


Operators explain how they developed and implemented attractive and effective communications that made their sustainability goals fashionable and cool, and moved away from messages that were patronizing, guilt-laden, or disapproving. Panelists will be Bill DiMento, corporate director of sustainability at High Liner Foods; Charles Clover, founder of Fish2Fork; Helene York, director of strategic initiatives at Bon Appetit Management; Ian Olson, director of sustainability at Darden Restaurants; and others.

Noon–1:30 p.m.



Bill Holleman, director of operations at Roti Mediterranean Grill, and Jeff Riley, CEO of Dinerware, will share one chain’s growing pains and lessons learned, including concept standardization and establishing successful partnerships with technology vendors.

Next: Where to Go, What to Do


Where to Go, What to Do

Willis Tower

Distance from NRA Show: 2.89 miles

At 1,450 feet and 110 stories high, Willis Tower—formerly known as the Sears Tower—is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Home to more than 100 prominent insurance, law, and financial companies, the tower attracts more than 1 million visitors each year. At sunset, check out The Ledge on the 103rd floor, with glass boxes extending out 4.3 feet from the building and offering an unparalleled view of the Windy City. Address: 233 S. Wacker Dr.

Loop Retail Historic District

Distance from NRA Show: 3.01 miles

This shopping district is nestled in the Chicago Loop of Lake Street, Congress Parkway, State Street, and Wabash Avenue and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Spend an evening touring the area, which features famous buildings such as the Sullivan Center—formerly the Carson Pirie Scott building—the Chicago Theatre, the luxurious Palmer House Hotel, and major department stores like Macy’s, where Rick Bayless has his famed Frontera Fresco quick serve. Lake Street, Congress Parkway, State Street, Wabash Avenue

Millennium Park

Distance from NRA Show: 3.1 miles

This 24.5-acre park, which didn’t open until four years after the millennial celebration, plays host to more than 500 events—from concerts and art exhibitions to ice skating—every year. After the show closes at 5 p.m., rent a bike to ride around the McDonald’s Cycle Center, catch a dance performance at Harris Theater, or take a stroll through the enchanting Lurie Garden. 201 E. Randolph St., between Michigan and Columbus Avenues

Navy Pier

Distance from NRA Show: 3.41 miles

Since 1995, Chicagoans and tourists have visited Navy Pier, which borders the beautiful Lake Michigan. You can take a ride on the 15-story-tall Ferris Wheel or enjoy dinner and live music at the Beer Garden. On Saturday, hit the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at 8 p.m. to see The Madness of George III. 600 E. Grand Ave.

The 900 Shops

Distance from NRA Show: 4.03 miles

If retail is your forte, spend some time in this Magnificent Mile shopping destination, which features seven levels of more than 70 luxury lifestyle shops. With everything from Bloomingdale’s to Gucci, you can find just what you need to look sharp and fashion-savvy at the next day’s breakout panels. 900 N. Michigan Ave.

Italian Village

Distance from NRA Show: 4.68 miles

Treat yourself after a long day of education sessions and booth browsing by taking a pick from this trio of authentic Italian restaurants. The Village is designed to mirror a small Italian town, while La Cantina, a steak and seafood house, features narrow isles and tucked away booths patterned after a wine cellar. Vivere highlights regional Italian cuisine and sits on the Best New Restaurant list for both Esquire and Wine Spectator magazines. 71 W. Monroe St.

Billy Goat Tavern

Distance from NRA Show: 5.29 miles

This sports-fan favorite, made famous by the Saturday Night Live skit, is considered a Chicago Tourist Landmark and has been frequented by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Bill Clinton. A Chicago legend since 1934, the Billy Goat Tavern is said to be haunted by the “Cubs Curse”—aka the “Curse of the Billy Goat”—which has plagued Cubs fans since 1945. Visit this original location (located under Michigan Avenue) and sit in the “Wall of Fame section” or stop by any of its other five locations in the area, and make sure you taste one of the legendary “Cheezborgers.” 430 N. Michigan Ave.

Next: Baby Boomers Coming in Waves


Baby Boomers Coming in Waves

QSR’s breakout panel, ‘The Silver-Haired Tsunami,’ addresses the way Baby Boomers are shaking up the foodservice industry. Are you ready?

Now that they’re hitting retirement age, more Baby Boomers than ever are looking to re-enter the workforce, and the foodservice industry could be their destination of choice.

Three industry experts—Mike Amos, president of the Council for Hotel and Restaurant Trainers (CHART); Barry Flink, executive vice president of Flex HR; and Brent Alvord, president of quick-serve chain Lenny’s Subs —are joining together for QSR’s breakout panel, “The Silver-Haired Tsunami,” to explore the challenges and advantages that Boomers will bring to foodservice and how brands should approach working with this age group. The session will be held on Sunday, May 22, at 1:30 p.m.

Baby Boomers are altering the landscape of the foodservice world, fashioning a workforce that runs from 16-year-olds working their first part-time jobs to 80-year-olds looking for a way to fill their extra time. This combination of generations can lead to an “interesting mix when someone at 18 years old is bossing around their grandma,” Amos says, adding that “the authority figure role is completely turned around” in these situations.

Flink says that the generational mix leads to employees of various age groups looking for different experiences within a quick-serve team. “You have to design a work environment that, if it’s to be effective, will [first] allow everybody to go after what they want and secondly, to get along even though their priorities and values might be a little different,” he says.

Alvord says that brands must “approach each person as an individual and make sure that [they’re] appealing to things that are interesting to them.”

From left: Blair Chancey, editor of QSR; Barry Flink, executive vice president of Flex HR; Brent Alvord, president of Lenny’s Subs; and Mike Amos, president of CHART.

Challenges aside, working with employees who are in different stages of their lives “brings a more colorful atmosphere and a broader range of personalities” that allow restaurants to form livelier connections with their consumers, Alvord says.

“When you have people with different sets of values, it gives you a diversity of thinking. And from a diversity of thinking comes new ideas and better ideas,” Flink says. “If we all thought the same way, we’d come up with the same ideas.”

So how should brands approach Boomers? Figuring out their motivations for joining the foodservice industry is the first step, Alvord says. Whether it’s for the money or to keep themselves active both mentally and physically, restaurants must make Boomers “feel like they’re adding value and doing something meaningful.”

Amos says brands must also determine how to help Boomers overcome what he calls the ‘FUDs’—fears, uncertainties, and doubts—that they may feel upon re-entering the workforce.

“There are fears back to middle school, back to high school, that come back” when it comes to diving into a new experience like joining a quick-serve staff, Amos says.

The most important thing for Flink is that brands not put too much emphasis on age when it comes to recruiting and working with Boomers, as well as other generations.

“Don’t even think of them as Boomers. Don’t think of them as Gen. Xs. Don’t think about the seniors,” he says. “Think of them all as individual contributors and celebrate what each of them brings to the workplace, and don’t worry about how old they are.

“Minimize the differences, and maximize the things we have in common,” Flink says, “because then we’ll all focus on the things we have in common.”

Next: 2011 Kitchen Innovations Awards


2011 Kitchen Innovations Awards

Camduction Complete Heat System

Manufacturer: Cambro Manufacturing

This hot-meal delivery system charges 20 heat retention bases in one unit and promises reliable temperature holding for 60 minutes.

CORE Protection Fire System

Manufacturer: CaptiveAire Systems Inc.

The fire-suppression system includes real-time monitoring, supervision, and communication of operational status and specific fault conditions.

Mini 2in1 Combi Oven

Manufacturer: Cleveland Range LLC

The oven-steamer comes with two independent cooking chambers and requires limited space, allowing simultaneous food preparation.

Coca-Cola Freestyle

Manufacturer: The Coca-Cola Company

This self-serve fountain dispenser features more than 100 beverages, and takes the same amount of space as an eight-valve machine.

Hot Cube 3

Manufacturer: Cres Cor

The tri-powered hybrid hot cabinet uses 120V indoors and converts to propane heat for eight hours outdoors.

Apex Conveyor Dishmachine

Manufacturer: Ecolab

Apex Conveyor is designed for spotless ware results using half the utilities. The dishmachine also cleans and delimes itself automatically.

Ecolab Cleaning Caddy

Manufacturer: Ecolab

This restroom-cleaning caddy, complete with chemical dispenser, spray wand, on-board wet vac, and rechargeable battery, is the size of a mop and bucket.

EcoVent Exhaust Air Cleaner

Manufacturer: Franke Foodservice Systems

The first cooking exhaust cleaner to introduce grease- and odor-reducing effects of UV light in the airstream, reducing the need for filters and daily cleaning.

Jet Extraction System

Manufacturer: Halton Company

An extraction-exhaust system that uses a cyclonic aspirating hood to provide quiet cooking.

Proximity Heat Reclaim Hood

Manufacturer: Halton Company

This reclaim hood captures the highest clean combustion heat from a gas appliance, supplies hot water, and reduces energy consumption.

PriMelt Oil Melter

Manufacturer: Henny Penny

PriMelt is an on-board oil melter that converts semisolid oils to a clear liquid and maintains it for replenishment, without hot splash.

Advansys CLER Energy Recovery

Manufacturer: Hobart Corporation

The conveyor-type warewasher captures heat from exhaust air to preheat inlet water for energy savings.

Indigo Series Ice Machine

Manufacturer: Manitowoc Ice

Operators can program ice production and monitor ice clarity and machine maintenance, as well as energy and water usage.

M-iQ Flight-Type Dishwasher

Manufacturer: MEIKO, USA

The M-iQ includes a filtration system that removes food waste from the wash water and features a filtration process that collects food soil and flushes it out in high-pressure cycles.

Dragon Fire Thermo Recovery Filter

Manufacturer: National Hot Water

A device that replaces grease filters in vent hoods and combines a heat exchanger with a grease filter to convert heat exhaust into energy.

Produce Soak with Advanced Washing Technology

Manufacturer: Power Soak Systems Inc.

Free-flowing water moves soil from hard-to-reach areas. Advanced Washing Inserts and Flexible Tank Dividers create rotating motions for thorough washing and sanitation.

Pro-Max Two Sided Grill with Pro-Lift Hinge System

Manufacturer: Star Manufacturing

This Pro-Max Grill uses a hinge system that transfers loads to compression springs for improved multifood grilling capabilities.


Manufacturer: STOVESHOES LLC

A cost-effective alternative to wheels or casters, these are nonbreakable, chemical resistant, and low friction, making sliding kitchen equipment easy.

Kwik Clean 3 Pre-Rinse Spray Nozzle

Manufacturer: Strahman Valves Inc.

The three-tip nozzle allows for quick spray pattern changes. Its high-efficiency design reduces energy and wastewater costs while lowering CO2 emissions.

VISION Underbar Furniture

Manufacturer: Supreme Metal Inc.

A line of underbar furniture that features interchangeable and customizable finishes, hardware, fixtures, storage options, and installation configurations.

The Quiet One

Manufacturer: Vitamix Corporation

The quietest commercial blender available, providing sound reduction through its exclusive door-seal design.

Universal Ventless Hoods

Manufacturer: Wells Manufacturing

With the flexibility to mix and match various electric cooking equipment and an innovative air path with a four-stage filtration system, these hoods capture more effluents with 34 percent less air flow and 30 percent less noise.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Food Safety, Menu Innovations, Ordering, Restaurant Operations, Special Reports