May 02, 2024

What to know before you go to the show

There'll be hundreds of new exhibitors in over 900 product categories, from food, beverage, equipment, technology, and more.

Join 35,000 foodservice industry decision-makers to learn, celebrate and network at the largest annual industry gathering in the Western hemisphere.

The National Restaurant Association Show kicks off on Saturday, May 18, at McCormick Place in Chicago. Join 35,000 foodservice industry decision-makers (54,000 total attendees including exhibitors) to explore, learn, celebrate, and network at the largest annual industry gathering in the Western hemisphere. 

This year features hundreds of new exhibitors in over 900 product categories, from food, beverage, equipment, technology, tableware, sanitation and more. A revamped education schedule features an array of expert-led sessions and workshops, providing up-to-date industry data, actionable insights and practical strategies to help prepare for what’s ahead. Highlights include:

Keynote ‘24, held Monday, May 20, features José Andrés, notable chef, restaurateur, and humanitarian, in conversation with Michelle Korsmo, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. Andrés is the founder of World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that has provided millions of meals to people in need during times of war, natural disaster, and other humanitarian crises. He’ll speak about his own passion for empowering communities, using food as a tool for social impact and the crucial importance of giving back. Grand Ballroom, Monday, May 20, 1:15 p.m.

Focused learning experiences:

New for this year, the Expo + Education badge gives attendees exclusive access to more than 40 operator-led sessions, expert-led roundtable discussions, networking opportunities and more, held off the show floor. Education tracks and topics include: Culinary Insights, Operations Solutions, Marketing Matters, Technology Strategies, Trends in Adult Beverage, and Workforce Management. On-the-floor programming, keynotes, and featured sessions remain accessible to all attendees through a general registration pass.


FABI Award Winners — The 2024 Food and Beverage (FABI) Awards has selected 35 recipients of industry-altering products that shape what’s new and next for the future of food and beverage. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste FABI Favorites and FABI Awardees at the Connections space, located in The Culinary Experience, Lakeside Level 3, Booth 10148.

Kitchen Innovation Awards — 2024 marks 20 years of these awards recognizing forward-thinking, cutting-edge equipment. The 2024 Awardees will be showcased in the Kitchen Innovations Showroom in the South Hall. 

Featured Show sessions: Expo + Education badge required.

Safety & Diversity: Protecting Your Employees in a Conflict-Charged Workplace — Saturday, May 18, 10-10:45 a.m., Room S404, South Building, 4th floor. Gerry Fernandez, President Emeritus & Founder at the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance will learn about policies and standards to support employees and guests during a time of increasing political, cultural, and ideological differences. 

Technology’s Pivotal Role in Growing the U.S. Restaurant Industry — Sunday, May 19, 10:15-10:45 a.m., Room S404, South Building, 4th floor. Hudson Riehle, SVP Research & Knowledge at the National Restaurant Association presents highlights from the Association’s latest tech trends report; then Mike Whatley, VP State & Local Affairs at the National Restaurant Association moderates a brief operator Q&A with Erica Barrett, chef, serial entrepreneur and food personality behind the SOCU Hospitality Group, and Juan Martinez, owner of Martinez Hospitality, a management company that operates fast-casual restaurants.

Above the Bar: Service, Hospitality, and Innovation — Sunday, May 19,12-12:30 p.m., Beverage Room Stage. Tony Pereyra, founder of Spirits in Motion beverage consultancy, shares new trends and best practices to help turn customers into loyal patrons. Included: alcohol service safety tips from the experts at ServSafe. 

30 Ways to Cut Costs in 30 Minutes (without reducing quality or harming your guest experience) — Monday, May 20, 11-11:45 a.m., Room S502, South Building, 5th floor. Jim Laube, founder of delivers proven strategies for running a better restaurant business.

Increasing Access of People with Disabilities to Hospitality Spaces and Careers — Monday, May 20, 10-10:45 a.m., Room S504, South Building, 5th floor. Mindy Larson Crystal, Senior Professional Advancement Manager, NRAEF with her panel guests offer hands-on resources for helping to increase access to restaurant careers for people with disabilities.

Featured booth sessions:

All featured booth sessions are held in the National Restaurant Association booth, #6600, North Building

●    Essential Financial Skills for Restaurant Owners and Managers: Learn practical strategies for managing restaurant finances and learn industry cost and expense benchmarks.
●    Get a Grip on Your Food Cost: Discuss effective practices and controls to maximize food and reduce losses for improved profitability. 
●    10 BIG Mistakes Startup Restaurateurs Make (and need to avoid!): Understand common mistakes that can cause a lot of trouble for operators and how to avoid them.
●    Alcohol Public Policy Trends & Mitigating the Risks: Learn how to responsibly navigate the new alcohol policies that have created new opportunities for operators while avoiding increased risk and liability.
●    The Power of Apprenticeship to Address the Workforce Shortage: This session will highlight overall workforce trends, highlighting roles that are the most in demand and hardest to fill. Hear why some operators are using apprenticeship as a solution to the workforce shortage. 
●    FDA/CDC New Virus Reporting Tool: The FDA wants feedback on this smartphone tool that helps operators manage restaurant employees when they’re sick.
●    Don’t Push Your New Hires Out the Door: How to Transform Your Onboarding Process A personal, organized and professional onboarding experience helps retain employees. 
●    Find Affordable Employee Benefits Through ServSafe: Meet ServSafe Benefits, an easy-to-use subscription empowering your team with health and wellness solutions, exclusive discounts, and career development tools..
●    Unlock Your Team’s Potential with ServSuccess: Explore a framework designed to cultivate hospitality talent.
●    The Strategic Value of Employee Benefits in Workforce Attraction and Retention: Learn more about offering robust benefits packages to help attract and retain a talented workforce.

Show pro-tip: Skip the registration lines to pick up your badges. On Friday and Saturday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., you can print your show badge at remote stations located in the Chicago Marriott Mag Mile, Chicago Sheraton Grand, Hilton Chicago and Hyatt Regency Chicago, and you do not have to be a guest of the hotel to access the registration station.
For all the information about the Show, read our   attendee FAQs.
Sponsored by
  • Heartland is the point of sale, payments and payroll solution of choice for entrepreneurs that need human-centered technology to sell more, keep customers coming back and spend less time in the back office. Nearly 1,000,000 businesses trust us to guide them through market changes and technology challenges, so they can stay competitive and focus on building remarkable businesses instead of managing the daily grind. Learn more at or come visit us during the show at Booth# 3612 in the South building.