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    What’s On the Menu at 2016 NRA Show

    This year’s event has more content for c-stores than ever before.

    By Angela Hanson, Convenience Store News

    CHICAGO — Today more than ever, the convenience store business is also a foodservice business, with c-stores competing directly with quick-service restaurants, fast-casual eateries and nearly anywhere else prepared food is sold. That makes the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show, taking place May 21-24 at Chicago's McCormick Place, a good learning opportunity for c-store operators.

    Every year, tens of thousands of companies and members of the foodservice industry gather at the NRA Show to buy, sell, and learn about new products and services. The 2016 show offers a wide variety of content and resources tailored to the convenience channel — more than ever before.

    Foodservice @ Retail

    Foodservice @ Retail ([email protected]) is a first-time, all-day conference running concurrently with the NRA Show on Monday, May 23. It is specifically designed to address the challenges retail operators face when the time comes to add or expand foodservice offerings to their existing operations.

    "As more and more restaurant and foodservice operations open within retail establishments, the knowledge and expertise of our NRA Show exhibitors and foodservice leaders becomes a welcomed resource for supermarket and c-store operators," said Lisa Ingram, convention chair for NRA Show 2016 and president and CEO of White Castle System Inc. "The [email protected] Conference allows c-store and supermarket operators to share experiences, best practices and lessons learned from marketing to hiring practices required to run a successful foodservice operation within the retail industry."

    Sponsored by Ecolab, [email protected] panel discussions will include: "The Foodservice @ Retail Culture," examining topics such as challenges for traditional grocers, food handling and safety challenges, and the power of selling "really good food"; and "Labor & Talent Recruiting," examining the impact of the minimum wage, changing the perception of "retail," and more. Panelists include Sheetz Inc. Brand Director Ryan Sheetz and Hy-Vee Inc.'s Matt Beenblossom. Phil Lempert will act as moderator.

    Other [email protected] sessions will focus on the state of the foodservice at retail industry, the role of health and wellness, labor and talent recruiting, and marketing your foodservice at retail operation.

    Crowdsourced Education

    In its first 100-percent crowdsourced session, the NRA Show will host veteran chef Robert Irvine, host of “Restaurant: Impossible,” and TV star and businessman Jon Taffer, host of "Bar Rescue," as they put their heads together at 10:30 a.m. on May 23. 

    Topics covered will be common pitfalls they've witnessed, and how to identify and address them before it's too late; what it takes to pull a foodservice operation back from the brink of failure; the incredible diversity to be found in the foodservice industry; and why hospitality is the true calling of show attendees.

    Specialty Pavilions

    Attendees looking for something specific don't have to wander the aisles of the expo hall until they find what they need. Specialty areas and pavilions at the 2016 NRA Show include:

    • Alternative Bitestyle — For "special diets simplified;" features products and ingredients that ease the process of modifying a menu to cater to restricted diets such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, low-sodium, etc.
    • The Organic & Natural Pavilion — Caters to the growing contingent of consumers who want to see simple, healthy ingredients.
    • The Conserve Solutions Center — Helps operators determine which products fit their needs to lower costs, waste, energy use and environmental impact.
    • The Tech Pavilion — Where the latest foodservice-related mobile apps, mobile payment systems, digital signage and data-driven solutions are highlighted.
    • Startup Alley — Where creative, innovative startups prepare to make a splash in the industry.

    Click here for more information or to register to attend the 2016 NRA Show. 

    By Angela Hanson, Convenience Store News
    • About Angela Hanson Angela Hanson is associate editor for EnsembleIQ's Convenience Store News, where she is responsible for primary coverage of the candy, snacks and packaged beverages categories. Since joining CSNews as assistant editor in early 2011, she has played a key role in helping CSNews.com maintain its position as the No. 1 news source for the convenience store industry. Prior to joining CSNews, Hanson served as junior editor at Creative Homeowner book press and as managing editor of Anime Insider magazine. She has degrees in creative writing and visual communication technology from Bowling Green State University.

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