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How to Make the Most of the 2024 National Restaurant Association Show


Tessa ZuluagaAuthor

The 2024 National Restaurant Association Show on Saturday, May 18 to Tuesday, May 21 is basically the Coachella for restaurateurs. This event is for you if you are a restauranteur, want to be one, or are just a big restaurant fan.

Taking place at McCormick Place in Chicago, experts will be leading sessions on new opportunities and products to help the restaurant industry in the new business landscape of 2024. You can register here to attend the show. 

Here are some tips on how to make the most of your trip to the National Restaurant Association Show, and don’t forget to come to see us at booth #5814! 

1. Familiarize yourself with the exhibit  

To help save yourself time during the show, do some research beforehand. You can find the exhibit floor plan here, a complete exhibitor list here, and the schedule here

To stay up to date on everything National Restaurant Association Show, you can sign up for texts or emails at the bottom of this page.


Restaurant Floor Plan Templates

Use these restaurant floor plan templates to get inspired as you map, or reimagine, the layout and space setup for your restaurant.


2. Go to different booths and network

The National Restaurant Association Show is a great place to make connections. It’s a giant event of people who have one thing in common: a love for restaurants. Learn about other businesses' restaurant concepts, how they’ve navigated changes, and what makes their restaurant tick.

You can also attend workshops that provide up-to-date education on problems relevant to your business. These hands-on workshops will allow you to learn directly from experts and peers to solve problems, get answers to questions, and spark new ideation through collaboration. 

3. Tips on networking with other restaurants

The NRA is hosting some social events to help you out, starting with a young professionals party on Sunday, May 19th from 5pm-7pm at TAP at McCormick Place. Network with fellow young professionals immediately following the Show. You won’t want to miss these invaluable face-to-face opportunities with other young professionals in the industry. Tickets are only $25 and include appetizers and beverages. You can sign up here.

NRA is hosting an industry night out on Monday, May 20th from 7pm-10pm. Celebrate at Chicago’s Time Out Market which features the city’s top chefs, restaurants, and bars. The ticket is $100 and allows attendees to “Taste the Market” aka enjoy beverages with some special surprises from NRA sponsors. You can purchase your ticket here.

The best way to network at the NRA Show is to talk to the attendees interested in the same exhibits as you. For example, say you’re interested in learning more about AI. You attend the 10am Monday session on Optimizing AI for Enhanced Guest and Restaurant Team Experiences, and strike up a conversation with a fellow Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning enthusiast. This would be a great person to bounce ideas around with and get inspiration from. Another pro tip is to follow attendees on social media and connect with them on LinkedIn. This is a great opportunity to find new website and marketing inspo. Take advantage of this and hit that follow button! 

NRA has made networking even easier with meetups in their Connections space, a special area for networking. You can read more about Connections here.

4. Join the conversation on social media

Share your experience on social media! Make sure to tag the NRA (@nationalrestaurantshow) and Toast (@toasttab) in your Instagram story posts and to use the hashtag #2024RestaurantShow. Toast’s social media team will be keeping you up to date across our different social platforms. 

5. Drink up 

Who doesn’t love a refreshing beverage? Beyond the young professionals networking event and industry night, the Beverage Room Stage will be hosting different events throughout the show. These are especially great if you’re a bartender or bar manager and are looking for some fresh inspiration. You can find more information on these sessions here and make sure to add them to your show planner

6. Enjoy Chicago 

First time in Chicago? You’re there for restaurants anyways- might as well try some of the amazing dining experiences the town has to offer. 

Here’s a list of Chicago restaurants that can satisfy any craving and here’s our article on Chicago’s bloggers that can help. Want to spend some time exploring the city? We got you covered with this site. Chicago is also the birthplace of modern architecture, so there is no shortage of sightseeing. I mean – did you really even go to Chicago if you didn’t visit the Bean at Cloud Gate? Enjoy your time in the Windy City and take in all it has to offer. You can find inspiration for your own restaurant business in a city like this.

7. Come to the Toast booth!  

Lastly, come network with us! Schedule your exclusive pre-event demo with a Toast expert. Find us at booth #5814. 

Your pre-event demo includes:

  • Info about connecting with Toast at National Restaurant Association Show.

  • A sneak peek of our spring product launches.

  • A walkthrough of Toast catered to your restaurant.

  • Info about our Toast Community.

  • Brief mention of products being showcased. 

Come visit us at the National Restaurant Association Show 2024 to meet a dedicated team of passionate and experienced restaurant technology professionals.

For more information about Toast at the NRA Show 2024 head to this site. Remember, Toast is built for restaurants and built for you.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.