The TimeForge crew travelled to Chicago to attend the 91st National Restaurant Association trade show, which offered more exhibits and information than we could have possibly hoped to absorb during our four day trip. Every year, Chicago hosts over 75,000 food professionals who gather to share and learn about trends and innovations in the service industries. We went to spread the word about our employee scheduling software, tell people how much time and money it can save them, learn about cool new things that affect restaurants, and well – mostly we went to eat! With revolutionary new marketing practices, award-winning equipment, exciting advances in “Green” technologies, and tables overflowing with culinary delights, the 2010 NRA show continued its annual tradition of overwhelming our taste buds and tickling our gadget-crazed fancies.

This show had an eight and a half percent increase in the number of exhibitors compared to last year, so 2010′s show was even more packed with information than usual. The sharing of information did not fall on deaf ears, as there was also a more than eleven percent increase in the number of attendees – which came from over 120 countries!

Perhaps most importantly, the food was awesome! One of our favorite products that was introduced at this year’s show is Chipstix, which are potato chips on a stick… a simple, yet truly revolutionary concept! We hope the chipstix trend spreads like wildfire! The Chork, a disposable chopstick-fork hybrid, is another of our favorite new products! A fork on one end and chopsticks on the other, the Chork looks like it could actually prevent chopstick-challenged folks from looking silly while eating Asian fare.   Our technology itch was scratched by the YWaiter iPhone application, a mobile app which acts as your waiter at participating restaurants. With YWaiter, customers can place drink orders and check out at their own convenience! If this trend catches on, it could revolutionize the entire service industry!

Perhaps our favorite part at this year’s show was the very spontaneous NRA flash mob dance, which really exemplified the humor and camaraderie found in few other industries. Overall, we were entirely pleased with our trip to Chicago and look forward to next year’s show! We hope to see you at the 2011 NRA show!

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