Our Recap of the 2018 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago!


What exactly is the National Restaurant Association (NRA)?  The NRA is a restaurant industry business association in the United States, representing more than 380,000 restaurant locations.  The association was founded in 1919 and is headquartered in Washington, DC.

On Saturday, May 19th, NRA kicked off its 99th Annual Show in Chicago which ran through Tuesday, May 22nd.  Many folks, including myself, wondered why the NRA show is in Chicago - that answer is easy. To start, Chicago is home to 7,300 restaurants, which ranks in the Top 10 Cities in America.  With 22 of the 7,300 restaurants ranked as Michelin starred restaurants, it's not hard to find top quality eating experiences.

Now back to the show…50,000 folks from around the United States attend the show to meet with 1,800 exhibitors representing equipment and products related to the Food and Beverage sector, furnishings, decorations, paper, plastic supplies, services, tableware, food itself and our personal favorite - technology.

In short order, the restaurant industry has evolved at a rapid clip to incorporate technology kiosks for ordering, interactive signage for menus, digital kitchen solutions, pay ahead technology and now the ability to incorporate robots into automating the process.

Gwen Brannon, Director of Guest Insights and Analytics at The Coca-Cola Company shared with operators during a panel session that “People are tethered to digital devices”.  We all see technology in today's society taking our industry to new heights.

There were a few key manufacturer partners that stood out with new technology offerings - here are a few of those partners:


PAR Point-of-Sale:

Par’s point-of-sale technology, referred to as Brink, is a cloud-based software that easily adapts to support the evolving needs of customers.  As a cloud-based POS software solution, Brink does not require a back-office computer, and all your data is safe, secure and accessible in the cloud.  There are no upfront licensing fees, and upgrades are included and performed automatically. To recap, here are the four main reasons Brink POS is a leader in our industry:

  • Automatic Upgrades
  • Secured Data
  • Accessible Anywhere
  • Fault Tolerant

For more info on Brink, click here.



BrightSign state-of-the-art technology is found around the world, powering digital signage in every vertical market.  BrightSign hardware is known for ultimate reliability and an extremely robust operating system purpose-built for digital signage.  BrightSign uses a simple process from content creation to publishing - the six step process is as follows:

  • Concept
  • Content
  • Software
  • BrightSign OS
  • Media Players
  • Digital Signage

For more info on BrightSign, click here.



FusionPrep is a digital kitchen solution that will revolutionize your kitchen.  FusionPrep offers the following services as a part of their offering:

  • Keep track of receipts and builds
  • Simplify your prep process
  • Fast label printing
  • Simple reporting interface

For more info on FusionPrep, click here.


In addition to the specific manufacturers mentioned above, the NRA show has a dedicated Technology Innovation Hub which offered exhibitors the ability to view, test and meet with ~100 manufacturers in the technology vertical market.  During the Signature ‘18 Keynote speech, Dawn Sweeney, President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association, recognizes the need to incorporate technology into the new age restaurants across the country.

We at Newgentek are counting down the days until next year’s NRA Show - it’s scheduled to occur May 18th-21st, 2019 back at McCormick Place in Chicago.  Newgentek will be present at the show and hope to see and meet with many current and prospective clients!

Until then...Bon Appetit!