14 Game-Changing Products from the 2018 NRA Show | Food Newsfeed
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14 Game-Changing Products from the 2018 NRA Show

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By Danny Klein May 24, 2018 New Products
Shot glasses and a bartender.

Despite this being my third National Restaurant Association Show in as many years, I still managed to walk through the wrong door on day one. I somehow arrived at an adjacent building, about 170,000 steps from the South and North Halls, and the swath of people who invade them each May to discuss trends, insights, and tout the latest products in the most dynamic (in my opinion) industry out there. By the time I found the action, the same reality hit me as always: You can attend this show 30 times, like some people here at QSR/FSR have, and probably still feel like you’ve crash-landed on a new planet. Before I dive into my top picks for products and platforms I came across, here are some quick takeaways:

The tech section, in year’s past, has felt like a giant point-of-sale pitch to me. I think I heard as many solutions for delivery as I did for payment this year (often they went hand-in-hand, but still that was a noticeable change from the common course).

Operators want to solve the third-party delivery issue from a lot of fronts. We get caught up on the 30 percent commission, but there are so many additional challenges. Probably the most vivid point an operator made to me: When a guest orders from an aggregator, they’re ordering from the third-party company, not you. Protecting brand value, and the data that would have come with it, is as important as guarding margins. Self-delivery—that would be my big bet for round 2 of this movement.

Convenience. A lot of the equipment I came across was all about speed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many devices capable of producing food in such little time. And every time (it seemed), the point was, menu made-from-scratch items in no time. That almost seems contradictory, doesn’t it? But that’s science for you, and it’s an exciting opportunity for operators.

Now on to the items. Here were 14 of the best products I found on the floor this year. Pictured is Libbey.

  • Shot glasses and a bartender.