Trend Hunting at the Restaurant Show

Ten cool new products spotted on the NRA Show floor

CHICAGO -- Another NRA Show has come and gone, and in its wake are a number of new products with the potential to expand a convenience store’s menu span and heighten the guest experience.

Despite—or perhaps due to—it being a NAFEM Show year, the majority of unique items with c-store applications we spotted on the show floor fell into the equipment category. Ovens continue to advance as manufacturers look to ways to make food prep faster, more efficient and increasingly aesthetic.

On the flavor front, hummus, smoke and spice, unique appetizers, Asian ingredients (such as XO sauce) and Hispanic menu items (such as beef barbacoa) permeated the show floor.

The innovation was also in the details, such as the 5% tilt on the wells in Hatco’s buffets for better presentation, or the fact that the hand dryer in Bradley’s Advocate sink is strong enough to hold a purse in order to free hands, or the use of purple to indicate allergen-free kitchen equipment found at Vollrath, Blendtec, Vitamix and other booths.

Explore the slideshow below for some of our favorite things from this year’s NRA Show.

Nemco unveiled its new PaniniPro high-speed sandwich press, which uses dual conduction and microwave heating for fast cooking and grilling at once. It produces a toasted, hot sandwich in about 60 seconds and doesn’t require a hood.

Apex Order Scanner

Apex brought to the show a solution for operators with order-ahead mobile apps. Employees place the order in the appropriate slot from behind, and the consumer scans a receipt code on their smartphone in order for the window with their order to open up. The company also offers similar lockers for grocery and Amazon pick-up at c-stores and other retailers.

Ardent Mills Grain Bagels

Protein may be hot, but Ardent Mills is following consumers’ desires for ancient grains, sprouted grains and whole grains. It was serving bagels stuffed with scallion and chive cream cheese and chocolate swirl bread topped with hazelnut butter and strawberry compote.

Bradley Advocate Sink

Bradley’s Advocate sink puts the faucet, soap dispenser and hand dryer in one place, reducing drips across the restroom floor. It also makes the hand-washing process simpler for guests in wheelchairs. The hand dryer can hold up to 150 pounds on its top.

Grecian Delight Hummus Snack Pack

While also sampling its traditional shawarma and gyro products, Grecian Delight—under its Pure Mediterranean Foods portfolio—unveiled a new snack pack that pairs hummus with cooked chicken for a low-carb, high-protein snack. It will be in the market this summer. Grecian Delight also has a line of unique hummus varieties for the foodservice market.

Hatco Mini Vertical Warmers

New Mini Vertical Warmers from Hatco are ideal for individually packaged cookies near the bakery items, coffee bar or milk merchandiser. Operators can link up to eight units for high volume day-parts.

Kettle Cuisine Soup

Soup manufacturer Kettle Cuisine was sampling a number of trend-forward flavors, including a jalapeno-tomatillo gazpacho and a hearty vegetarian quinoa and sweet potato chili with black beans. 

Ovention M360

Ovention’s M360 machine—a Kitchen Innovations award winner—is now ready for the “middle of the house” with four new shrouds and custom decals such as this jukebox style.

Sweet Street Sliceable Desserts

Sweet Street Desserts’ new line of bandes sliceable desserts includes caramelized pineapple coconut, flourless hazelnut chocolate with Nutella, and Greek yogurt blackberry flavors.

Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

At the ever-popular Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board booth were a bevy of interesting cheese products and applications, including a Cheddar flavored like chicken noodle soup and this grilled cheese sandwich made with ghost pepper Monterey.