NRA 2019: Celebrating A Century

Something old, something new—this year’s National Restaurant Association Show offers both. It promises, as always, to be a comprehensive showcase of leading-edge foodservice equipment, technology and trends. And this year the show is 100 years old, so planners are sprinkling the event with special occasions—such as a party Monday night—as part of the centennial celebration.

In the “something new” category, the NRA has partnered with Winsight Media, with Winsight taking over operational ownership and execution of the show. The NRA team believes this new partnership will enable them to help members better navigate the constantly changing world of foodservice. Having Winsight handle the show frees up the association to focus on advancing the industry.

Last year’s show floor covered nearly 700,000 sq. ft., which was a record for the event, and this year, planners say they’ve added more than 5,000 sq. ft. The number of exhibitors has grown, as well, now approaching 2,500 companies, of which approximately 25% are equipment vendors. In addition, there are vendors that represent maintenance supplies, facility design and technology that ranges from POS to energy efficiency.

Another big change this year: FER has moved its Industry Excellence Awards Celebration to the NRA Show from The NAFEM Show. The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place immediately following the close of the NRA Show on Sunday, and will honor the 2019 recipients of the Young Lion Awards (recognizing rising stars of foodservice E&S), Management Excellence and Industry Service Awards. Contact Christine Palmer at to register for the event.

An Inside Look At Innovations

Returning in 2019 is the Kitchen Innovations Showroom, located at the center of the South Hall of McCormick Place. Here, you can scout award-earning developments in foodservice equipment, meet people from the organizations that created the innovations and hear from other dealers, consultants and operators about the future of the equipment industry. (See a list of KI Award recipients on pg. 65, and look for more detail on all of the products in the May issue of Foodservice Equipment Reports.) These award recipients offer solutions to challenges that include safety, waste management, automation, efficiency and many of the other issues operators face, from back-of-house to front-of-house.

Also back at the show are the Innovation Hub, Startup Alley and TECH Pavilion, all located in the North Hall. The Innovation Hub, redesigned for 2019, focuses on the latest industry developments, showcasing technological best practices and insights about important foodservice trends. The Innovation Theater (inside the Innovation Hub area) offers educational programs from industry experts. Connect with tech-savvy visionaries bringing creative ideas to foodservice in Startup Alley. And stroll the aisles of the TECH Pavilion to learn about advancements in mobile apps, mobile payment, POS, digital signage and more that can help improve your transaction speeds, communication, general efficiency and costs.

You’ll Want To Take Notes

In addition to booths and exhibits, there will be more than 100 different programs, demos and events taking place over the four days of the show. The show opens at 9:30 a.m., and at 10 a.m., education programs begin. Along with the education sessions in the Innovation pavilions, there are on-floor TECH Talks and a Learning Center with a full schedule.

Operators that serve alcoholic beverages will want to check out the presentations on the BAR Stage in McCormick Place’s Lakeside Center. Beyond mixology demonstrations, attendees can hear about technical innovations and delivery systems that can make bar service more efficient and cost effective.

On Sunday, at 2 p.m., the show continues its Signature Series, held in the Grand Ballroom. Hosted by NRA President and CEO Dawn Sweeney, this event brings together some of the brightest minds in the business to discuss where the world of foodservice is headed. Then, on Monday at 11 a.m., a SuperSession program will examine the future of restaurants.

Planning Your Visit

Visit the NRA Show website——for help planning your time at the show. There you’ll find detailed information on exhibitors, interactive floor plans, presentation schedules and other up-to-date information. And be sure to visit to subscribe to e-newsletters from Foodservice Equipment Reports to stay up-to-date on news, recommendations and takeaways before, during and after the show.

National Restaurant Association Show

May 18-21, 2019
McCormick Place, Chicago

Exhibit Hall Hours:
Sat., Sun. and Mon.: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tues.: 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Register at

After-Hours Events:

  • NRA Show International Reception
    Sat., May 18, 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
    North Building, McCormick Place
  • IFMA 65th Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration
    Sat., May 18, 5:30 p.m.
    Marriott Marquis Chicago at McCormick Place
  • Foodservice Equipment Reports
    Industry Excellence Awards
    Sun., May 19, 5:15 p.m.-7:15 p.m.,
    following the show close for the day
    Hyatt Regency McCormick Place
  • Foodservice Consultants Society Int’l. Upper
    Midwest Chapter Networking Reception
    Sun., May 19, 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
    I|O Rooftop Lounge at the Godfrey Hotel
  • NRA Show 100th Anniversary Celebration
    Mon., May 20, 8:30 p.m.

Congratulations to the 2019 Kitchen Innovations Awards recipients:

Advertiser, NRA Booth Number
Alto-Shaam Inc., 4840
American Panel Corp., 460
Convotherm/Welbilt, 3601
Cres Cor, 3150
Edlund Co. LLC/Ali Group, 5013
Imperial Commercial Cooking Equipment, 2217
Jackson WWS, 6212
Turbo Air Inc., 2240


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