Blog Post

2018 NRA Show is a BLAST!

JonesCraft Restaurant & Hospitality Recruiters just returned from the 2018 National Restaurant Association Show held at McCormick Place in Chicago. What a fun time!

Let me put it this way: we left Greenville-Spartanburg airport at 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning, arrived at the show an hour after it opened and were sampling a Bloody Mary made with Demitris All Natural Gourmet Bloody Mary Mixes within the first five minutes! ( Now, that is what I call a trade show.

And the sampling didn’t stop at Bloody Mary’s. We tried beer, wine, coffee, liquor and even a little food. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you have A LOT to look forward to in restaurant-food options. WOW! Plant-based proteins were everywhere, and I mean everywhere. I particularly liked the “burgers” at Beyond Meat (

In addition to all the samples, there were chef demonstrations, wine tastings, and plenty of educational opportunities. We even had the privilege of hearing the 66th Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, speak. She is a fascinating person and a great story-teller. As an educator, I really appreciated hearing the story of how her maternal grandfather, Granddaddy Ray, attended Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He saved his money and had enough stockpiled to attend for one year. When his money ran out, he asked how his classmates were able to afford college. He was told that his classmates were studying to become Presbyterian ministers and attended on scholarship. His reply, “That is exactly what I was thinking of doing.” Condi said her family has understood the value of education and been Presbyterian ever since!

Beyond the exposure to innovations in the hospitality industry, the NRA Show is a great place to meet up with old friends and make new friends, as well. We loved catching up at the show and at the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association reception held at the Chicago Athletic Club ( on Sunday evening. Thanks, SCRLA (!

We also enjoyed an amazing dining experience (and property tour) with our friends at Lawry’s ( Of course, the prime rib, mashed potatoes and gravy and Yorkshire pudding were perfect, but we also enjoyed oysters on the half shell, creamed spinach, buttered peas, and key lime pie. YUUMMM!

Mark your calendars NOW for next year’s show May 18-21, 2019!