National Restaurant Association Show 2020 | What to Expect for Exhibitors

IMPORTANT COVID-19 UPDATE: The National Restaurant Association Show 2020, originally scheduled for May 16-19, 2020, at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, has been canceled. Next year’s show will take place on May 22-25, 2021.

Read the National Restaurant Association’s official statement here.


Exposure means everything for a business owner. If you’re in the restaurant industry, there’s no better place to get your products in front of buyers and network with other industry professionals than the National Restaurant Association Show 2020. This world-class trade show brings together the newest ingredients, trending restaurant equipment and technology, and fascinating demonstrations to boost the industry.

Find out more about the National Restaurant Association Show and learn why it’s a must-attend event for your business.

About the National Restaurant Association

The National Restaurant Association is the largest food service trade association in the world. Advocating on behalf of over 500,000 restaurant businesses, the mission of the association is to advance and protect the restaurant and food service industry by working with state associations, industry leaders and suppliers. The association began in 1919 and has been going strong for over 100 years, achieving major milestones like the Kids LiveWell initiative and the Dine for America relief.

About the National Restaurant Association Show 2020

The National Restaurant Association Show is a must-attend event that focuses on trends in the hospitality industry, from food and beverage trends to new and exciting technology. When you exhibit at the National Restaurant Association Show, you can take part in product demonstrations and fascinating educational sessions about emerging technology and innovations, and you can sample delicious new recipes and cocktails from the best names in the business.

Over 60,000 attendees and 2,400 exhibitors with 900 product categories come together to share in awards, tastings, demonstrations, start-up showcases and more, giving you access to the best the industry has to offer.

The National Restaurant Association Show takes place from May 16 to May 19, 2020, at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois.

Educational Sessions

The National Restaurant Association Show offers a range of educational tracks and sessions to further your learning and help your business succeed. The 2020 show features five educational tracks:

  • Hiring & Retention.
  • Culinary Insights.
  • Marketing Matters.
  • Tech & Innovation.
  • Beverage/Alcohol.

These specialized tracks feature in-depth sessions covering topics like building your team, recruiting top talent, future menu trends, cooking with cannabis, understanding the evolving consumer and leveraging blockchain technology.

You could also take part in culinary education classes featuring some of the top names in the business. The show features classes with top chefs and sommeliers in the Bellavita Food and Wine Theatre, trending international chefs in the World Culinary Showcase and applied techniques in the Culinary Experience Center.


To maximize your time exhibiting, the show hosts workshops for a more in-depth look at hot topics and trends prior to the start of the day. These intimate workshops give you a chance to interact with experts and other professionals to work through strategies to make your business more efficient and successful.

Workshops include:

  • Navigating the Labor Landscape: This workshop focuses on the challenges and opportunities in hiring and retention. It runs for three days and covers hiring practices, labor laws and providing career opportunities for employees.
  • Off-Premise Evolution: The Rise of New Business: This workshop features strategies and solutions for success with off-premise channels. It runs for three days and covers the off-premise consumer, delivery options and optimization, take-out, kiosks, to-go counters and more.

Celebrity Chef & Mixology Demos

If you want your business to stay ahead, you can never stop learning. With celebrity chef and mixology demos at the show, you can see demonstrations from industry experts and hear the personal success stories.

These demonstrations feature such top industry names as:

  • Rick Bayless.
  • Abe Conlon.
  • Anjula Devi.
  • Zach Engel.
  • Jason Hammel.
  • Chris Sayegh.
  • Kari Underly.
  • Andrew Zimmern.

You’ll also find master mixologists, brewers and wine experts showcasing custom-crafted and trending drinks.

Special Exhibits & Pavilions

To make the most of your show experience, the trade floor is categorized by top trends, products and emerging technologies.


  • Innovation Hub: The Innovation Hub features industry innovations and best practices in technology and social media.
  • Startup Alley: Startup Alley features innovations for improving operations and future food service trends.
  • TECH Pavilion: The TECH Pavilion showcases the leading products, tools and technology that can improve profits and efficiency.

Food and Drink

  • American Food Fair: The American Food Fair features producers and processors that utilize unique international ingredients for classic American fare.
  • Bellavita Italian Pavilion: The Bellavita Italian Pavilion features artisan products and demonstrations from leading Italian chefs.
  • Beverage Alcohol for Restaurants (BAR): The BAR features top mixologists, suppliers, ingredients and products for a top-notch beverage program.
  • Culinary Experience Center: The Culinary Experience Center showcases new products for creative dishes and emerging trends.
  • Global Food Expo: The Global Food Expo features international flavors from Ecuador, France, China, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Italy, New Zealand, Thailand and more for a refreshing take on your menu.
  • Organic and Natural Pavilion: The Organic and Natural Pavilion features products and vendors revolutionizing the organic and natural food industry.
  • World Culinary Showcase: The World Culinary Showcase features recipes and secrets from top international chefs and world-class cuisines.

FABI Awards

The FABI Awards honor the most unique and delicious food and beverage products on the market. Each year, an expert panel of judges chooses the products with taste, marketability and creative potential to alter the future of food. Throughout the show, you can find FABI Award candidate booths to sample some of the delicious options.

Kitchen Innovation Showroom

The Kitchen Innovation Showroom features the winner of the Kitchen Innovation Awards, which is given to the suppliers with cutting-edge kitchen equipment to improve efficiency and profitability in the back of the house.

Networking and Celebrations

If you’re planning to make valuable contacts at the National Restaurant Show, you can attend one of the many networking events or celebrations to interact with some of the leading names in the industry. Some of these events include:

  • Star of the Bar Finals: This contest brings the finalist mixologists to compete for the Star of the Bar title.
  • Networking Events for Young Professionals: This is a series of networking events designed for the up-and-coming stars in the industry.
  • IFMA Gold & Silver Plate Awards: The 65th-annual IFMA Gold & Silver Plate Awards celebrate the nation’s top operator talent with a night of cocktails, dining and mingling.
  • International Reception: The International Reception is a fun networking event that brings innovators from all over the world together for cocktails and conversation.

Making the Most of Your Trade Show Experience

Small-business owners can get a lot out of exhibiting at a trade show, but it’s also a significant investment of time and resources. With proper planning, you can ensure your trade show exhibit generates interest and maximizes your profitability.

Here are some helpful tips for a successful trade show experience:

  • Find out the details of the show, such as the type of attendees and the space of the booth area you’ll have, so you can plan the booth size, company displays and other logistics.
  • Make your display stand out. Use your company colors and attention-grabbing graphics to ensure your booth attracts attention in a crowded room.
  • Use videos and slide shows to draw attention and showcase what your products or services can do. You can rent large tv monitors on a stand or rack, which will catch the attention of visitors walking by and encourage them to spend time learning about your business.
  • Promote yourself on social media. Once you know you’re participating in a trade show, you can advertise your attendance and encourage your clients to come to the show and visit your booth. Be sure to start promoting well in advance to give your clients time to arrange travel.
  • Host giveaways. When you’re exhibiting, it’s important to have a range of freebies to give to your visitors, such as logo pens, brochures, magnets, business cards and other free stuff. You should also have a few high-value items that you can give away in contests, such as gift cards or samples, which will attract people to your booth.

For more tips, check out our Trade Show Preparation Guide to learn how to position your business for success.

Get a Show-Stopping Booth With Xibit Solutions

If you’re planning to exhibit at the National Restaurant Association Show 2020, a must-attend event for the food service industry, it’s vital to make a lasting impression.

At Xibit Solutions, we have years of experience creating a standout trade show booth with customized booth designs and graphics that catch the eye of passing visitors. We can help with your booth layout, design and logistics to ensure you have an attractive and practical design that puts your business at the forefront.

There’s a lot to see and do at a trade show, so let us do the work and give you a trade show presentation that stands out. Contact us today to learn more about our custom trade show services and see what we can do for you!

Sources: https://www.nationalrestaurantshow.com/