Texas' foodservice industry served up a tremendous turnout for the largest event of the year, the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) Marketplace, June 26 and 27 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. In May, the show was announced as one of the nation's top 25 fastest-growing shows in attendance by the Trade Show News Network (TSNN), a leading trade show industry authority.
In its 79th year, the TRA Marketplace is part tradeshow, part conference, with over 500 exhibiting companies participating, showcasing everything from artisan food products and craft beverages to linens, mobile technology, security, kitchen equipment, supplies and even food trucks. "Texas restaurants comprise a $52 billion industry," says Richie Jackson, CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association. "It's a huge and powerful market. As the largest trade show in the Southwest, our goal is to bring everyone together and provide the most relevant, topical, and practical information to help folks run their business and continue to grow the industry," he says. "We're very proud of the caliber of this show and the support it has consistently received throughout the years."
Thousands of restaurateurs, chefs, educators and industry executives from schools and universities to fine dining, to fast casual, gathered to network, purchase, browse and learn during the two-day show. Two different stages, the Education Idea Center and TIPS (Technology, Innovation, Profits, Solution) offered multiple seminars, panels and presentations covering relevant and practical issues facing the industry. Local and national speakers took the stage, such as Minnesota's Wayne Kostroski, founder of the 'Taste of the NFL' and a James Beard Humanitarian of the Year winner, speaking on the benefits of incorporating philanthropy into business. Ginger Johnson, CEO of Women Enjoying Beer, LLC from Oregon gave audiences a run-down of the latest trends in craft beverage, as well as the many benefits of moving away from deep-fried foods.
Congressman Kevin Brady also made an appearance, talking to TRA Members about the future of the industry, taxes and new overtime regulations. Texas industry leaders such as Kendra Shier of Bread Winner's Cafe and Jeffrey Yarbrough, co-owner of The Cedars Social gave an ambitious '100 marketing tips in 45 minutes' and audiences flocked to see IBM's 'Chef Watson' - the world's 'smartest cognitive computer' work food pairing magic.
New to the show this year was a 'Culinary Innovation Station' comprised of a curated collection of innovative companies newly launching their products in Texas, including Dr. Gumbo's New Orleans Cuisine, Green Mountain Flavors and DR DELICACY Fresh Truffles/Mushrooms/Caviar, among others.
There was also a New Product Showcase dedicated to all-new products hitting the market, which included the Again! Coffee Cup by Airlite Plastics, the Green Drain„¢, a Customer Insight Platform from Original Review, a Remote CO2 Storage Safety Dual Alarm by CO2Meter.com, a Managed Firewall by SecurityMetrics and Truffle Chips and Dust by DR DELICACY. Attendees voted for their favorite on the TRA app, and the winner will be announced in the summer issue of Restaurantville, TRA's quarterly newsletter.
TRA Marketplace will be celebrating its 80th year in 2017, pulling out all stops at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, July 9 and 10. With over 4.6 million people, Dallas was recently ranked 11th in the nation for job growth, and boasts over 12,000 restaurants and eateries. For more information visit www.tramarketplace.com