Guide to the National Restaurant Association Show 2022

National Restaurant Association Show (NRA), has been the premier event in the foodservice sector since 1919. Following a two-year absence, the biggest tradeshow for hospitality has returned and is better than ever in 2022.

Each year, McCormick Place hosts the Chicago-based show. The event spans three buildings and four floors. Show 2022 boasts more than 1,300 exhibitorsFind Small Biz Sense here Booth #6265In the Tech Pavilion), and also food and drink demos. There were two award ceremonies and a kitchen showcase. Nearly two dozen education sessions took place. Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian gave the keynote speech. 

For anyone attending the NRA show for the first time, we’ve compiled some tips for navigating this massive and inspiring show.

A successful show experience is only possible if:


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Make a plan before you go.

NRA’s show isn’t your ordinary restaurant trade show. You might find it overwhelming. So, before you arrive in Chicago, create an itinerary.

Here are some suggestions for creating a schedule.

Your must-see items should be prioritized

Due to its sheer size, it’s just not possible for any one person to see All that NRA has available (the organizers recommend at least two full days just to walk the floor), so start creating your itinerary by choosing the sessions, demos and exhibitors that are a can’t-miss for you, and then build the rest of your schedule around that.

Refer to this article when creating your schedule MapYou should ensure you leave enough time between events. If you plan to attend back-to-back sessions check that they aren’t too far away from each other. We can’t stress enough how huge this show is!

Pro tip:You are bringing your group along to the conference? Take notes during sessions that overlap, so all can learn and then share their learnings.

Changes can be made easily

As with all events, there is always the possibility of something unexpected happening and that schedules can be altered at any time. Sign up to receive text updates from the show for all the latest information and any changes.Just scroll down to the bottom on their website). You’ll receive the most up-to-date information right on your phone so that you can make last-minute itinerary adjustments as needed.

Take the time to discover

While you’ll want to have a game plan in place, make sure you schedule in a block of “free time” so that you can explore the show floor. There are likely to be a lot of exhibitors that you haven’t heard about yet, so give yourself some time to discover possible new vendors, learn a new cooking technique or check out the latest in restaurant technology. 

Create a meeting spot

Cell phone reception can be poor when there are thousands of people sharing one space. If you’re coming with a group of people, be sure to designate periodic meeting times and places in case you get separated and can’t get a hold of each other.

As much as you prepare for the show, it’s always possible that something may come up that you didn’t prepare for. When you’re planning your schedule with the show map, make a note of where the First aid stationYou can also find information booths so you’ll know where you should go for assistance.


Make sure you have everything!

If there’s one guarantee during NRA, you will be walking—a lot. The show’s dress code is business casual, but the most important element of your outfit will be your shoes. For maximum fatigue prevention, make sure to wear well-worn and worn-in footwear to the event. Show attendees with limited mobility will find assistance from the show. Get AroundFor mobile rentalmore information can be found on the show’s FAQ page).

Be prepared to change out of your clothes and bring some essentials. While the first aid tent is available, it doesn’t hurt to keep some bandages and sanitizer on hand for minor cuts and scrapes. To avoid dehydration, and to keep your energy up, we recommend that you carry a water bottle. 


Be patient

There are so many food and beverage samples to choose from at the show that many attendees don’t even plan for lunch or dinner. You might be tempted to rush straight to the fair to sample everything, but it’s better to spread your stops over the course of the week to make sure you get to everything and not have to take a break.

As for the beverage booths, it’s a smart move to save them for the end of the day for the same reason. A few cocktails early in the morning will cause you crash. This can also make the last half of your day less fun.


Small Biz Sense is at the Show of 2022 National Restaurant Association

Small Biz Sense will be at booth #6265 in the tech pavilion and we’d love for you to come by and say hello. You can also get a personal demo from Small Biz Sense Restaurant and a promo code for the show. For more information, click here. Chat with our experts now to book a chat.


Cyndy Lane

Cyndy is business journalist with a focus on entrepreneurship and small business. With over a decade of experience covering the startup and small business landscape, Cyndy has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, insightful and approachable journalist. She has a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners and is able to explain them in a way that is relatable and actionable for her readers.