Our Take on the 2016 NRA Show

Serving more than 2,000 exhibitors and hundreds of thought-provoking seminars, the 2016 National Restaurant Association has closed its doors for the year. Since not all of our restaurant partners attended the show, our partner team walked the (many) halls of Chicago’s McCormick Place and found these tastes, trends and tech to give you some exciting and new things to chew on.


High-Tech Menus

Easy to manage, easy to change, new menu software options give restaurants more options and more control than ever.

It’s not news that menus are going digital, but seeing multiple exhibitors with menu-digitizing software let us know that our recent menu updates will keep your restaurant on the cutting edge.

Next Level of Organic Foods

From our point of view, organic foods are more than a trend, they are here to stay. And finding delicious organic pizza at the NRA show only affirmed this.

Grown Local

We were also impressed by a variety of cold-press juices, which are made with high-pressure processing (HPP) as opposed to augers.1 At the show, we saw a hydraulic press instantly create a super-fresh organic juice that can be stored for 2 to 4 days—and up to 30 days if pasteurized. We were told the juice sells for $10 to $12 per 16 ounce bottle, which might make it even tastier for the right restaurant.

Dip in to New Sauces

According to Technomic, 51 percent of consumers say it’s important to have a choice of sauces and condiments at restaurants.2  This explains why we saw (and tasted) so many different sauces, from spicy ketchups to new mayos. For us, the takeaway is for restaurants to get creative and find their own saucy blends to serve.

dipping sauces

Edible Utensils

Perhaps one day utensils will taste as good as the food! This innovation may not taste great (although it wasn’t bad), but the spoons we tried were biodegradable and easily compostable.5 We also tried an edible cupcake wrapper that made eating a cupcake much easier.

Dig in to New Desserts

There were a LOT of desserts. But our fearless partner team weren’t deterred. They tried as many as possible, including guava gelato (natural fat-, dairy-and gluten-free), vegan cookies and specialty rum cakes. This variety is good news for restaurants, since, according to Statista, more than 40% of adults between 18-44 order desserts at least once a week.3


Backwards Beer Tap

High-output bars and event spaces will like this: a beer dispenser that fills the glass from the bottom. Not only is it faster to dispense (one design can pour up to 44 pints a minute4), it dispenses less foam, which conserves beer. The trick (and, we expect, the expense) is in the special cups made with a magnetic seal on the bottom.

Finding Allergy-Friendly Restaurants


Sadly, millions of people have food allergies6, which obviously affects the foods they can eat. At the show, we discovered a new web site that lets consumers catalog restaurants (maybe even yours!) that have special menu options, then rate the overall experience.

We plan on going to the 2017 NRA show, too. But next year we’ll bring a bigger appetite and a larger swag bag. We hope to see you there!



1 Cold-Pressed Juice on Wikipedia

2 Sauces: Flavorful multi-taskers

3 Do you eat dessert once a week or more often?

4 How it works: Beer Dispenser Fills Glass from Bottom

5 Are Edible Utensils the Best Alternative to Plasticware?

6 Facts and Statistics on Food Allergies