It was 4:45am on Sunday, March 5th when my alarm went off. Six of us were meeting at Terry Hills, bright and early, to embark on a little restaurant journey. Danielle (Restaurant & Banquet Manager), Chris (Assistant Banquet Manager), Mike (Head Chef), Kelli (Bar Manager), Casey (Head Golf Pro) and I (Darcy, Director of Marketing) piled into a minivan, and headed off to NYC for the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of NY.
Over 500 Vendors. Over 12 hours of education sessions. Cooking demos. Samples. You name it, it was there. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
Day 1: Early-morning flight into NYC.
The show kicked off this morning as well, so we arrived around 11am, got our badges, and headed into restaurant mecca. The show was held on the bottom level of the Javits center, Manhattan's largest convention center (which, to hep our golfers visualize, is approximately the size of our front 9). Lanes upon lanes upon lanes of restaurant and foodservice vendors.
So, needless to say, when we first arrived, we needed to catch our bearings. We literally just explored up and down the aisles to see everything there was to see. And that alone, took all day. Tasted samples. Saw different displays, products and technologies.
so. much. chocolate <3
checking out the sights to see, like this Barbie in a meat dress...
Around lunchtime, our education classes began, so we split up to attend various presentations for the remainder of the afternoon.
A few favorite items from the day:
- Wood Fired Pizza ovens (on wheels -- hello, Terry Hills patio?!) which made the most delicious pizzas in just 90 SECONDS. Day made.
- Soft-Serve Gelato
- Taste NY: a dedicated area for NYS food & beverage producers. Cider, maple syrup, specialty oils, breweries, distilleries... all the yum.
The other highlight was posing with this Sausage Mascot
At the 5pm conclusion, we headed back to our hotel to check-in, followed by dinner, drinks and of course, exploring NYC.
Day 2: Now that we had settled in and learned the ropes, it was time to get down to specifics.
We started the day off in our respective education classes: "Develop the Right Hospitality Management Team" for Danielle & Chris, "Food Transparency in the age of Fake News and Alternate Facts" for Darcy, and a culinary demonstration by celebrity chef, Donatella Arpaia for Mike, Kelli and Casey. Mike was one of the few people who actually got to try one of the meatballs she made, so I'm sure he will tell you that was his highlight of the trip. #chefcrush
Next order of business: seeking-out specific products/services that we came to see.
- Chris and I were on the hunt for new menus (got some great ideas!) and just in general, brainstorming ideas for our own restaurant & banquet facility tradeshow booth.
- Chef Mike/Danielle had their own wishlist: pretzel rolls, pizza logs, gluten-free options, and/or any & all new menu items/equipment that sparked their interest.
- Casey ultimately wanted to learn more about the inner workings of a restaurant, but also had one very important goal: finding a solution for credit card sales on the beverage cart. And BINGO, we think we may have found it!
- Kelli was on the lookout for specialty cocktails, bloody marys, and basically, anything alcohol-related to stock her bar with.
By the end of Day 2, information overload was a real thing, and we were brimming with new ideas. The good news was that it wasn't even over. We left the conference, quickly freshed up at the hotel, and headed straight to a networking cocktail party, sponspored by the NYS Restaurant Association. We got to chat with other restauranteurs and industry professionals while also saying a big "cheers" to a couple of well-spent days.
To sum everything up, the show was the perfect mix between education, a showcase of new products, with a little (read as: a lot) of fun thrown in. Here's everyone's main takeaways:
I think this trip brought together an already good management team and made it better to serve our customers in the best way.
David Scott Peters was an amazing speaker and I was really able to learn a lot from his two presentations, "How to Avoid 3 Deadly Mistakes in Labor Cost" and "Cost Saving Strategies"
"The Restaurant Expert" by David Scott Peters was a great presentation. This was also just a great bonding experience for the entire team.
I learned the importance of understanding food allergies and the danger to customers if a mistake is made.
Came away with so many new ideas for menus, tradeshow displays, and general restaurant practices to attract new customers. (also, sidenote: losing your voice while attending a tradeshow is NO fun)
And... a handful of exciting items we're bringing back with us:
- Pretzel Rolls
- New appetizers and sandwiches
- New Menu Design
- Credit Card sales on the Beverage Cart