2017 National Restaurant Association, Hotel-Motel Show

Come see us at the National Restaurant Association Trade Show May 20-23 in Chicago!

Our trade show season is in full swing and Chicago we’re coming for you next! We love taking East Coast Chair & Barstool on the road to meet new and current customers in person. Trade shows allow us the opportunity to form a fast connection with our customers. This year’s National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show (NRA) will be no different!

The NRA show brings together the movers and shakers of the restaurant industry to Chicago’s McCormick Place for a four-day event that you won’t want to miss.

At the NRA show, you will be surrounded by around 45,000 guests and 2,000 different companies exhibiting. Because of the sheer volume of exhibitors, pavilions, and booths, this is a show you will want to take your time. We recommend allotting at least two days just to cover the bulk of the show floor.

Any professional in the foodservice or lodging industry is eligible to attend the NRA show, so if you’re in any part of this industry, this is the place to be. Immerse yourself in the newest technologies, experimental cooking, and trends surrounding the restaurant and hospitality industries. Enjoy education sessions like “Building a Winning Brand”, “Custom Condiments”, and “What’s Really Going on in the Kitchen” to further you and your staff’s knowledge of the challenging restaurant industry. Culinary presentations by Robert Irvine, Duff Goldman, Stephanie Izard, and other celebrity chefs bring gastronomic experiences to life right in front of you.

We are ready to hit Chicago with our never-before seen Lake Shore Collection, our newly designed 850 and 925 bucket bar stools, and beautifully handmade Quarter Sawn table tops.

If you’re around the Chicago area, make sure to come out May 20-23 for the NRA show. We’d love to meet you and show you what East Coast Chair & Barstool can do for your restaurant.

A Hard Dose of Reality at NRA 2016

NRA Show Session - Reality Gets Real with Jon Taffer & Chef Robert Irvine

In May, I had the opportunity to attend the NRA Show’s first crowdsourced session Reality Gets Real with Jon Taffer & Chef Robert Irvine, two of the industry’s most recognizable television personalities.  As a huge fan of both of their shows, and as the marketing manager for East Coast Chair & Barstool, the national furniture sponsor of Bar Rescue, Season 4, I had been looking forward to this session since it was announced by the NRA.

As I made my way into the packed Grand Ballroom at McKormick Center in Chicago, IL, I had no idea what to expect, but I was pretty sure that it would be worth the trip – and it didn’t disappoint.  What followed was an hour of candid, rock solid advice from two hospitality pros that have seen and done it all in the industry.  Without any of the showmanship and bravado of their TV personas, these two highly intelligent thought leaders gave insights into everything from evolving to stay ahead of the competition to why they are so hard on the bar and restaurant owners that appear on their respective shows.

Hats off to moderator Phil Kafarakis of the NRA, who did an excellent job of keeping the conversation moving while still allowing for plenty of give-and-take between Jon and Robert.

Below, I’ve summarized some of the key takeaways from the session.   If you would like to watch the recording (which I recommend), you can find it here.

Leadership

  • Leadership, or lack thereof, is the biggest factor in whether a restaurant succeeds or fails. Both Jon and Robert have around a 70% success rate in turning around bars and restaurants on their respective shows; they are able to achieve this level of success by turning failing owners into more effective leaders.
  • Both Jon & Robert said that the biggest failures they’ve had were caused by owners that never really accepted responsibility and refused to acknowledge that they were the reason their business wasn’t working. Both have witnessed owners undo all of the renovations and processes that they have put in place…before their shows have even aired.
  • Jon and Robert use fear as a motivator on their shows to get failing owners to take responsibility for their failure. Both say that nothing gets a failing business owner to take action quicker than appealing to the fear of losing their house and putting their family in serious financial trouble.

 

Marketing

  • A brand isn’t a logo, it’s not a color, and it’s not a marketing material. A brand is what we do.  Brands aren’t created; they’re built one guest at a time.
  • We don’t create food and beverage in this industry, we create human reaction. If a guest doesn’t react to your food, then you are going to be stuck in mediocrity.  Whoever creates the best reactions wins.
  • In Jon’s experience, if somebody comes to your bar/restaurant and has a flawless experience, the likelihood that they will come back is less than 40 percent. If they come back a second time and have a flawless experience, then the likelihood that they will come back is still under 50%.  However, if they come back a 3rd time and have a flawless experience, the likelihood that they will come back for a 4th visit is over 70%.  So, as operators in the hospitality industry, we should be marketing for at least 3 visits.
  • Millennials look at their phones about 260 times per day, so we, as marketers, need to find a way to get on that phone to communicate with them.
  • Jon believes that technology is bothersome when it gets between a server and a guest. He stated that people don’t come to your establishment for food, drink, or to watch sports, all of which they can get at home; rather, they come for the experience…and that is how you compete by giving them a world class experience.  So, don’t let technology get in the way of creating that experience.  Robert, on the other hand, believes that technology, when used effectively, enhances that experience.
  • Cell phones (technology as a whole) can be a killer of business, because they put all of the power in the hands of the consumer. It’s extremely easy now to get on your cell phone and tell a worldwide audience how your meal/server/experience was terrible.

 

Operations

  • About 70% of the restaurateurs that Jon comes into contact with on his show don’t even have data on their food costs, beverage costs, or overhead.
  • Both Jon and Robert believe that it is so important to know your costs and your weekly P&L. Robert gets daily reports on all of his restaurants’ profits & losses so that he knows what he made and what he lost.  “It’s my money, and I want to know where it’s going”.
  • Robert thinks that, as a restaurant, if you aren’t redoing your interior every 3 years, you run the risk of becoming stale and losing to the competition.
  • Robert believes that wallet-less payments will soon take over the industry. The technology is already there, the only thing lacking is consumer acceptance.  He said that servers will have a credit card that wages and end-of-the-night tips will be paid to, and the money will be made available to them immediately: “Uncle Sam will love it, and the servers will hate it”.
  • We are creatures of habit. We love to go to the same restaurants and eat the same food.  Excellence can only be achieved through consistency.  If you aren’t producing a consistently great experience, there will always be somebody newer that is.

One thing was clear from attending this session: Jon and Robert create successful restaurants by taking a top down approach.  If you are a struggling business owner, you don’t have to be on television to change your fortunes; you can learn a lot by watching this session and questioning your leadership, processes, and attitude toward change.  Don’t expect your employees to do it for you: any major changes are going to have to start with you.

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Get Ready Chicago…Here We Come!

Chicago Blog2

East Coast Chair & Barstool is heading to Chicago! Also called “the windy city”, Chicago is known for its famous Navy Pier; splendid architecture; and food like deep dish pizza, Italian beef, and hot dogs.  This great city is again hosting the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Trade Show from May 16th through May 19th at McCormick Place.

If you haven’t heard about this spectacular event, the NRA Trade show is one of the biggest shows that restaurant and hospitality owners can attend.  Known as the international foodservice marketplace, this show will have the latest and greatest products and trends in the industry, as well as provide every attendee an opportunity to develop their own business to keep their customers happy while still making a profit.  Looking for information on food & nutrition, operations, franchise, or sales and marketing?  How about sustainability, technology or workforce engagement?  The NRA show will have all that through various educational sessions where you can learn from the best in the business.  Plus, thousands of exhibitors line the halls with new products, technologies, services, and foods that any restaurant owner would want to check out.  As an added bonus, many celebrity chefs will be in attendance on the show floor holding demonstrations as well as providing information that you’ll want to know in educational sessions.  Chefs including Robert Irvine, Jeff Mauro, Geoffrey Zakarian, Fabio Viviani, Anne Burrell, and Rick Bayless will all be in attendance.  It will surely be a busy couple of days but with so many great resources in one place, how can you miss it?

All of us at East Coast Chair & Barstool hope that you will visit our booth and check out the amazing restaurant furniture that we are bringing to display.  From indoors to outdoors, we will have chairs, bar stools, tables, bases, and booths that you can get your hands on to see the quality that we are so proud of.  We will also be bringing some of our latest styles that have never been seen before.  We are excited to have you be the first to sit in our chairs and bar stools, check out our tables and bases, and explore the uniqueness of our reclaimed wood furniture.  Our booth staff will be ready for your arrival, so we’ll see you in Chicago!

The Hidden Shamrock Chooses Rustic Restaurant Furniture for Remodel!

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When Sean Griffin, General Manager of The Hidden Shamrock, started looking at remodeling he knew he wanted to incorporate reclaimed furniture into the new design. He began searching for the perfect fit for his traditional Irish bar located in Chicago, IL. Griffin soon became frustrated in his search. “I couldn’t find what I wanted and I was really put off by other prices” stated Griffin.

Running out of options, he decided to try the National Restaurant Association Show, one of the biggest annual trade shows for the restaurant industry. It was there that he spotted East Coast Chair & Barstool’s display of reclaimed restaurant furniture and knew that his long search was over. “I loved your stuff and it was shockingly economical,” Said Griffin.

He was pleased to purchase our reclaimed wood table tops and metal chairs with reclaimed wood seats. These products were able to create the rustic, homey atmosphere that he was going for in his restaurant and pub. He was finally able to create the aesthetic that he had been searching for during his remodel.

When we asked him about his experience with remodeling, he told us it’s no picnic. Remodeling is a stressful process and needs to be a labor of love explained Griffin. Owners need to ask themselves if the change is going to enhance the guest experience better. If the answer is yes then do it, if the answer is no, then don’t. Thankfully he decided the reclaimed furniture was going to enrich the patron’s experience and he wasn’t wrong. “People can’t help but notice them,” Griffin explained.

As for aesthetics during a remodel, Griffin suggests keeping it simple. “Don’t go too trendy. Do it because you like it and feel a connection. Know what you want and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

The seasoned general manager also recommends taking what you think you are going to spend and multiplying it by 1.3. Griffin acknowledged that the restaurant industry is full of surprises and it is better to be prepared for anything that might come your way.

pic3“I would use East Coast Chair & Barstool again. They do a good job and seem to have a good relationship with their Amish vendors who produce their quality reclaimed products.” said Griffin speaking of our Amish craftsmen.

If you would like to incorporate rustic furniture into your restaurants design, these products and more can be found on the company’s website www.tableschairsbarstools.com.

 

 

Review of the 2013 National Restaurant Association Show

Now that we’ve had a chance to digest all the excitement (and endless food samples) of the 2013 National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show, we put our thoughts together to share this brief recap of the 4-day, fun-filled international restaurant and hospitality industry tradeshow.

Walking into the magnificent McCormick Place for the first time was breathtaking. Its design so elegant yet massive, as the floor-to-ceiling windows welcomed in natural light and beautiful views of both a quiet sailboat-painted Lake Michigan and also the urban skyline of nearby downtown Chicago. Long rows of escalators inside the Grand Concourse helped move people up and down the five levels and bring people from the North and South buildings together. (The center actually has four cutting edge buildings, connected by beautiful sky bridges.) With 2.6 million total square feet of exhibit space, 170 meeting rooms, and assembly seating for up to 18,000 people, McCormick Place is enormous and versatile, and it’s a great choice for events, such as the NRA Show.  Decorated with an eclectic art collection, with pieces by artists Dale Chihuly and Tim Prentice to name two, that speak to the city’s architecture and culture, the center intrigues the senses from inside and out.  And I haven’t even mentioned that I saw one McDonald’s, two Starbucks, a few souvenir shops, a market cafe, and a food court that offered convenience to those of us who were planted there for 9-hour days.

South Hall’s Level 3 was clearly the most coveted (and largest) exhibition space with big brands such as Coca-Cola, Rubbermaid, and Anheuser-Busch piquing attendee interest with large, flashy displays and enticing giveaways. Across the hall in the North Building, Levels 1 and 3 were also filled with industry-related exhibitor booths, all vying for the attention of the 58,000+ passer-byes. With over 2,000 booths in over 900 product categories, the tradeshow offerings ran the gamut from cheese, salsa, and wine to rapid cook ovens, silverware, and of course, restaurant furniture.  Whether it was marketing and HR resources or the latest in green technology, a restaurant owner could seek out many new tidbits to help them run an efficient, trendy, and profitable business.  It’s a four day event for a reason; it’s massive!  If you’re breaking ground on a new restaurant or have always dreamed about becoming a restauranteur, we would recommend attending the NRA Show in order to amass the excess of product information, resources, trends, and advice which is contained under one roof.  Beware, the surplus of food samples, types of equipment, flatware companies, industry statistics, and recommendations may become overwhelming (heck the 25 yogurt vendors alone could send you into a tizzy), but the opportunity to sort through all the information can be very beneficial in making educated business decisions.  Plus, you’ll bring home a bag filled with tchotchkes and schwag.

Among the exhibitors, you may find a surprise or two awaiting you. We rounded the corner once and found Captain Sig Hansen of the Deadliest Catch signing autographs and taking photos with big-grinned fans, like our very own Dave DiSanti.

In between walking the endless aisles of exhibitors, the NRA also hosted 70+ educational sessions.  These sessions covered topics such as menu engineering, social and overall marketing, economic outlooks, managing staff within your workplace culture, and just so much more.  Plus, attendees had the opportunity to hear from celebrity speakers, such as Anthony Bourdain and the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz.

From inside our booth, we were able to survey the show attendees on their need for restaurant furniture either now or in the future. What’s more, we had the chance to really talk with them, form some personal relationships, and get to know our target audience a little bit better.  Understanding their perspective (and long list of balls they juggle on a daily basis) helps us become more than just another vendor to them, but their ally as they start or manage their restaurant, their dream, and the way they make their living. We met many passionate people who are in the business of making great food, satisfying other people, and creating wonderful places to work or dine.  Smart and savvy, with custom options on their mind, today’s customer is helping drive our business where it needs to go into the future.  For those lessons, we’re grateful.

We had such a great time, we’ve already reserved our 2014 NRA Show booth!  We invite you to join us in the windy city next May 17-20. See ya there!

Did you attend this year’s show? Let us know what you thought!

See our photos from our trip here!