What if I told you there was a place, besides your restaurant, where you could be working and making your business run more smoothly, while also sampling cheese, smoked salmon, and beer and wine?
Well, you're in luck, because there are food and restaurant trade shows across the country that let you do just that.
Read on to see which restaurant events are hitting your city this year – including Toast's newest venture for restaurant owners, Food for Thought!
2017's Restaurant Event Season
After a crazy exciting 2017 that consisted of Lizzy Fitzgerald and I traveling all across the country to attend over 70 restaurant events, I think we both raked up enough TrueBlue JetBlue to circle the earth twice.
This year, Toast will once again hit the road and attend these restaurant trade shows, food shows, and restaurant events across the United States.
In anticipation of this, I have compiled the top 11 restaurant shows in 2018 that I am most excited about (plus a new event from Toast). If you'll be attending any of these events, let us know in the comments below, and make sure to come by the Toast Booth to say hi!
Featured Event – Food for Thought by Toast
Nationwide, Starting in April 2018
Food for Thought, served by Toast, is a free community event for restaurant owners, operators, and managers who come to be inspired by their peers and industry leaders. Expertly curated sessions and interactive workshops are designed to reignite your passion for restaurants and leave you with tangible takeaways to apply to your business.
There are already eight Food for Thought Events planned – Austin, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, LA, Miami, New York, and San Francisco – so make sure to save your seat!
1) Mid-America Food Expo
Greater Columbus Convention Center - Hall B
January 28 - 29
Find Toast! Booth 510
Toast is kicking off trade show season by traveling to our first food show of the year in Columbus, Ohio. Previously, this show was the “Pizza and Ice Cream Show,” but they have rebranded and have some pretty cool things happening. Some celebrities chefs such as Michael Symon and Mario Rizzotti will be there!
2) The New England Food Show
Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
February 25 - 27
This show obviously makes the list, seeing as it's in Toast’s backyard. The New England Food Show is one of the bigger food shows we attend during the year. There is always a line for the samples of clam chowder and lobster rolls. I personally love attending this show in particular because I get to touch base with some of Toast’s oldest customers. It’s great to have them see Toast evolve throughout the years!
3) The International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York
New York City
March 4 - 6
New York City - need I say more?
The International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York was the first food show I ever attended in my Toast career. New York is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) regional food shows in the country. Attendees fly from all across the world for this show and it really is shown with the international vendors from different countries.
4) The International Pizza Expo
Las Vegas Convention Center
Las Vegas, NV
March 20 - 22
I attended this show last year for the first time and can honestly say I have never seen more pizza in my entire life. Everywhere you look, there is dough, cheese, marinara sauce, and a lot of hungry individuals. If you asked me if I ordered Pieology from my hotel room after the last night of the show, I wouldn’t deny it.
And if you're looking for a new pizza POS system, keep your eyes open for Toast!
5) Nightclub & Bar Show
Las Vegas Convention Center
Las Vegas, NV
March 26 - 28
The Nightclub & Bar Show is the biggest nightlife event of the year. I have heard so many great things about this show, and I cannot wait to see it for myself. The show consists of a three-day conference, exhibit hall, networking, and, well, everything you'd expect at a nightclub event.
6) MURTEC – Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference
Paris Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV
April 11 - 13
MURTEC is unlike the typical food shows. Specifically for multi-location restaurants, MURTEC showcases all the hottest technology hitting the hospitality industry. These three Las Vegas days are filled workshops, networking, and engaging keynotes. This show is the place to be if you are looking for the latest technology solutions.
7) Northwest Food Show
Portland Expo Center
April 22 - 23
This will be the third year that Toasts exhibits at the Northwest Food Show. The show alternates between Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. I was lucky enough to experience the showcase at Seattle (and loved every minute of it) and now I get to see what Portland is all about, including seeing speeches from some of the nation's best chefs.
8) The NRA Show
May 19 - 22
The NRA Show: this is the place to be if you are in the restaurant industry. People fly in from all parts of the country to attend this show, and it is by far the biggest food show I have ever attended. There are multiple halls of food samples, cook-offs, and technology demonstrations. It takes about the entire four days to explore all the different booths and vendors.
9) CoffeeFest Denver
Colorado Convention Center
June 8 - 10
I could never get enough of this event. That is largely due to my caffeine addiction, but it was also one of the first events I attended. These three days will give you a buzz, literally. Denver isn’t the only city where Coffee Fest is hosted, there are also Coffee Fests in Baltimore and Los Angeles, so if those are more convenient for you, check the website and see when a CoffeeFest is in your area.
10) Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo
Los Angeles Convention Center
Los Angeles, CA
August 19 - 21
The Western Food Show is another one of my favorites, and not just because my best friend from college lives in Los Angeles.
This show reminds me a lot of the International Food and Restaurant Show of New York in size and with the newest food trends. At last year's show, I learned all about the new food trend of 2017, poke!
11) Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show
Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center
September 6 - 8
Last, but certainly not least, is the Florida Food Show in Orlando.
One of the last shows on Toast’s roadmap for 2018, this show brings all Floridians to Orlando for three full days of all things restaurant. With over 8,000 attendees the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show is one of the biggest in the country.
What food shows or restaurant trade shows will you be attending in 2018?
These are only 11 trade shows and food events in 2018 that restaurateurs can attend to better their bottom line. These restaurant shows give you an opportunity to leave the business and learn about the newest trends in menu engineering, food science, restaurant technology as well as network with other industry experts.
I know it may be hard to carve time to get out your restaurant (and find money for it), but these events are irreplaceable opportunities to learn about the latest and greatest food trends, see new restaurant technologies, and network with other restaurateurs just like you!
If you are at any of the events mentioned above, make sure to stop by the Toast booth and say hi!