Top Restaurant Trade Shows to Attend in 2019

best restaurant trade shows

Posted: Mar. 13, 2019

The restaurant industry is quick to adopt new trends, exceed customer expectations, and set new standards for important world issues, like ethical food sourcing. Considering how inventive and creative chefs are, it is also an exciting time to be in gastronomy—new flavors are daringly brought forward while old classics are reinterpreted into modern favorites.

With millions of moving pieces, it can be hard to see the "big picture" view of the restaurant industry as a whole. Have you considered attending a trade show? At the center of all the goings-on in the restaurant industry are its trade shows and conventions. They give industry players a stage to introduce their products to people like you, and in turn, visitors can be immersed in new technology, food products, concepts, and conversations.

The size of your food service operation doesn‘t matter, trade shows are meant for all to be inspired and find workable solutions. Below see our round-up of the best restaurant trade shows that are not to be missed in 2019. (Don’t miss our trade show tips at the end!)

Nightclub & Bar Show 

March 25 to 27, 2019

Las Vegas, Nevada

As the owner or manager of a bar, the Nightclub and Bar Show is the one show you need to attend. Over 600 exhibitors are going to be on the floor, showing everything from bar POS technology to new drink trends to unexpected distillery processes to marketing ideas. It’s scheduled to be three days of entertainment and education, with a great roster of speakers scheduled for its conference program. It’s Vegas, so there are parties for attendees that feature top performers and entertainment, and it’s the ideal chance to meet people. It’s not too late register; the conference can also help you find affordable hotel rates on its home page.

The National Restaurant Association Show

May 18 to 21, 2019

Chicago, Illinois

This year marks 100 years of the National Restaurant Association Show. As one of the oldest trade shows in the country, it sets the standard for how a great convention should be. Over 43,000 visitors are expected to attend; this and the fact that it’s a smooth-running operation, attracts just about every type of exhibitor, from kitchen equipment to restaurant technology to quirky beverage producers. This trade show is also where new food, beverage, and dining trends are presented. Without a doubt, it’s one of the highlights of the year.

Western Food Service and Hospitality Expo

August 25 to 27, 2019

Los Angeles, California

The Western Food Service and Hospitality Expo is an exciting show. Based in California where many industry leaders work, it attracts the best, the innovative, and the adventurous. If being the first to know trends or new products interests you, then this is your show. With innovation at its core, the Western Food Service and Hospitality Expo attracts both the culinary vanguard and experimental. What’s more, it’s an educational center. This year, top speakers are presenting ways to increase profits, energize business, and engage with customers in meaningful ways.

Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show

September 15 to 16, 2019

Orlando, Florida

Hosted by the same organizers of the Western Food Service and Hospitality Expo, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show is the leading restaurant trade show on the east coast. Over 450 vendors are exhibiting, a group that’s anticipated to reveal the best of the best in restaurant décor, business education, menu trends, and more. For chefs or restaurant managers looking to revamp their kitchen, hear from industry veterans about veggie-centric dining, food delivery by drones, the art of fermentation, and even the best way to light your photos for Instagram. This is the show to see emerging trends first hand and to learn from the most experienced and passionate people in the industry.

Restaurant Trade Shows to Start Planning for in 2020

These excellent trade shows have already passed in 2019, but it’s never too early to plan for 2020. In addition to the four trade shows mentioned above, the following shows feature more of the best and most innovative players in the industry:

Mid-America Restaurant Expo

Columbus Ohio,

February 20 to 23, 2020

This is a massive show that attracts over 4,000 exhibitors and speakers. With its size, it has something for independent operators, regional chains, start-ups, and industry veterans.

RC Show in Toronto

March 1 to 3, 2020

Toronto, Canada

The top show in Canada, the RC Show in Toronto will focus on sustainability in 2020.

International Restaurant Show in New York

March 8 to 10, 2020

New York City, New York

There is no reason not to attend this show; you'll meet the most innovative and smart companies in the industry, plus, it attracts a diverse, international group of people that make this show a little different from the rest.

12 Tips to Attend Trade Shows like a Seasoned Visitor

1. Register on time.

2. Book the hotel, Airbnb, or other accommodations well in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute or you will be stuck with uber-expensive rates and terrible rooms.

3. Come dressed to impress and ready to stand on your feet for hours.  

4. Check out the exhibitor’s list beforehand to get a lay of the land. If there are specific booths you want to attend, make an appointment in advance via email.

5. Make a mental map of nearby bathrooms and coffee stands so you don’t waste time looking around for one.

6. Stay focused. Tackle the area that you are most interested in in the first half of the day when you are most energized. Then, you can spend the rest of the time wandering other halls—you might be surprised by a unique idea.

7. Keep hydrated with water. You would be surprised at how much energy is used to meander and talk with people. Drink water throughout the day and snap up any free juice samples that come along.

8. Some trade shows print a QR code on your ticket so that when scanned, your contact information is shared. If that’s not the case, have a business card. Remember to ask for the business cards or pamphlets of companies you want to research more after the show.

9. Don’t dawdle at a stall; keep it moving. Contact the person later to continue your conversation or visit the booth again when things have slowed down.

10. If you need something to hold all your new materials, don’t hesitate to ask a booth you’ve just been in for one of their free swag bags.

11. Drink a glass of water with every free glass of booze. Restaurant and bar trade shows are famous for having irresistible drinks all around, and water will keep you from getting sloppy.

12. While taking a train or plane home, or the next day at work, sort through all the cards and pamphlets you collected and make notes. Send emails to people you met that you are interested in keeping contact with, and write to any companies with products you want more information on. A simple email sent now ensures easy communication moving forward.

Attending a trade show is a proven way of finding new methods or solutions for your business. Just as important, trade shows are hubs of inspiring ideas and products. Register at one of these food and drinks trade shows and join other industry leaders for a few days of like-minded conversations and brainstorming.

While you’re there, come visit us! Lavu is exhibiting at the restaurant trade shows listed here.  


Posted: Mar. 13, 2019 | Written By: Emma Alois


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