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CHICAGO -- The National Restaurant Association (NRA) announced that exhibit space at its 2012 Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show has completely sold out. The newly redesigned exhibit floor will showcase more than 1,900 exhibitors, including 500-plus new exhibitors that will offer thousands of products and services to restaurant and other foodservice operators, including convenience stores. NRA Show 2012 will take place May 5-8 at Chicago's McCormick Place.
"A sold-out exhibit floor means NRA Show 2012 will be buzzing with thousands of new products and services that can make a difference in operators' businesses," said Jack Crawford, convention chair and president and CEO of Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative LLC. "And this year's addition of more than 500 new exhibitors speaks to the ongoing opportunity and optimism inherent in our industry. Coupled with our show-stopping lineup of celebrity chefs, plus more than 70 in-depth education sessions on key topics, a lively exhibit floor promises to energize our attendees and provide them with countless ways to improve their operations in the year ahead."
Highlights on the NRA Show 2012 exhibit floor include:
• Operator Innovations Awards Gallery (located in the Grand Concourse): The industry-first Operator Innovations Award recipients will highlight operator accomplishments in five distinct categories: Sustainability, Technology, Food Safety, Health & Nutrition and Menu Development. Winners in each category, as well as the Innovator of the Year, will be announced at Destination: Celebration on May 5 at the Harris Theater Rooftop Terrace at Millennium Park.
- Food & Beverage Product Innovations Awards Gallery (North Hall, Booth 7200): The Food & Beverage Product Innovations Awards program acknowledges how food and beverage manufacturers are responding to the changing needs of operators and consumers by delivering creative and delicious offerings.
- Kitchen Innovations Pavilion (South Hall, Booth 2440): An expert panel of food facilities consultants and multi-unit executives selected innovative commercial kitchen equipment for the impact they can make on operations of all business types and sizes. Hands-on demonstrations of the Kitchen Innovations Award recipient products will take place in the Kitchen Innovations Pavilion.
- Specialty Pavilions: New Healthier Kids Fare (South Hall, Aisles 500-600) will make it easy for restaurant and foodservice operators to find a range of healthful food and beverage products to develop delicious and nutritious children's menus. Conserve Solutions Center (South Hall, Aisles 700-1200) will highlight how "going green" isn't just the right thing to do for the environment, it's also a smart way to do business in today's market. Franchise/NRA Show (South Hall, Aisles 4800-5200) is produced by the NRA and Franchise Times and brings together entrepreneurs and concepts to develop new business opportunities through franchising. The International Cuisine Pavilion (North Hall, Aisles 6900-7000) will showcase traditional foods and beverages from around the world. The Technology Pavilion (North Hall, Booth 5575) will host demonstrations, education sessions and exhibits focused on increasing efficiency, guest satisfaction, transaction speed and lowering costs.
- Expert-Led Education Sessions (4th floor, Technology Pavilion and the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event): More than 70 free educational sessions will provide real-world expertise on timely topics spanning multiple interest areas that can immediately make a real business difference to restaurant operators. Among the educational sessions, Convenience Store News is presenting two panels on foodservice in the convenience store industry. In one session, "The State of C-store Foodservice," CSNews Editor-in-Chief Don Longo will be joined by Dean Dirks, of Dirks Consulting, to review consumer and retailer research on the current state of foodservice in the c-store industry. In the other session, CSNews Executive Editor Linda Lisanti will moderate a panel on "How To Do World-Class C-store Foodservice," with guest experts Jack Cushman, Ph.D., executive vice president of food services for Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, Jim Bressi, director of foodservice research and development for Kwik Trip Inc., and Dirks.
The annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest single gathering of restaurant, foodservice and lodging professionals. The event attracts 58,000-plus attendees and visitors from all 50 states and 100-plus countries, and showcases the latest products, services, innovative ideas, up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues and other growth opportunities. For more information, visit the show website at www.restaurant.org/show, and find the NRA Show on Twitter @NRAShow, Facebook, YouTube and its widely read blog, Floored!