Archive | April, 2013

NRA Trade Show Tips for the Digital Age

25 Apr

The annual National Restaurant Association Show is the most important restaurant industry event of the year, and we are geared up and ready for the action. Every attendee or exhibitor is a potential contact or client and every connection could yield the vital conversation or referral that could make the difference to your business’s bottom line.

Conference success has and always will revolve around your personality and offering, but the conference experience itself has changed more in the past five years than the previous 20, thanks to the advent of digital and mobile technology.

While many have predicted the death of the humble business card, it is still the primary method of introduction, and the ritual of exchanging them at conferences goes on, but sometimes with a digital twist. There are many smartphone apps such as Cardmunch or Bump that allow details to be exchanged and automatically uploaded to your contact database along with email, images and weblinks and these real time updates add deeper levels of insight on your newly made contacts.

Techsavvy conference goers create specific cards especially for the event they will be traveling to. They will create a video or other fun or interesting content in advance and link them to a QR code. By placing the QR code on the business card, it now becomes a multimedia gateway that people can view using the same phone they are uploading your card details too!

You may want to start incorporating either your company’s or your personal social media addresses on your business card from now on too. If you make a good impression and people want to connect with you then they will invariably look for your Linkedin profile or Twitter handle before your website, so you should make it as easy as possible to connect to you. We do!

Another thing to consider is that Twitter has transformed the conference arena. Before, unless you were a keynote speaker, it was practically impossible to speak to a large number of attendees simultaneously, whereas now one perfectly timed tweet will get you all that attention in a moment, along with many new followers. Virtually every conference has a #hashtag attached to it so you can follow all conversations related to it.

Many presenters will upload their presentations, slides and videos to Twitter after they speak so you can actually concentrate on their words and ideas rather than note-taking. That said, the retweeted quote is the new applause and a speaker knows they are doing a good job if their knockout line is greeted with a thousands fingertaps rather than applause.  Watch out for the many plasma screens around the venue exhibitors and the NRA will use to show the live Twitter stream for the conference – a great way to get noticed and introduce yourself.

With this in mind, its good practice to pre-schedule some social media posts using the conference hashtag to appear during the conference. This will save you the job of finding material to share when you could be networking and enjoying the event!

Many of the top conferences including the NRA Show have also fully embraced the mobile future by producing specific apps just for their events.  The NRA Show’s can be found here – that contain schedules, maps, social media links and much more information that you can have instantly rather than carrying a bulky conference program pack – although it might be worth getting one as a souvenir because they will be disappearing quicker than the free food samples on offer!

We hope that we’ve outlined some new digital ways to connect with others at a trade show. If you have specific questions or want to reach out to us for more information, please feel free to do so. Email us at We hope to see you there!

CHD Expert Releases New Data Finding That Mexican Restaurants Flourish in Chicago, representing 9% of the city’s Restaurant Market

24 Apr

Leading foodservice data and analytics company CHD Expert, evaluates the status of the Mexican restaurant industry in their hometown of Chicago, Illinois, and draws comparisons between the Mexican restaurant scene in Chicago and some of the nation’s largest cities.

Despite being about 1,500 miles from the nearest U.S. Mexico border crossing, residents of Chicago don’t have to travel far for an authentic burrito, as some of the best Mexican food in the nation can be found in Chicago. As reported in CHD Expert’s 2012 U.S. Foodservice Operator Update, the Mexican menu type had a net increase of 4.7 percent and was the second largest growing menu type in the U.S. With the 2013 National Restaurant Association Show just one month away, Chicago-based foodservice data and analytics firm, CHD Expert, reports on the Mexican restaurant industry landscape in their home town and NRA Show host city, Chicago, Illinois.

According to CHD Expert’s Foodservice Database,CHD FIND® (Foodservice Industry National Database), Mexican restaurants represent 9 percent of the total restaurants in the city of Chicago with over 600 options to choose from. Chicago has the 4th largest number of Mexican restaurants of any city in the country. Although New York City is the leading restaurant city in the country, they have 40 percent less Mexican restaurants (375), making up only 4.2 percent of the city’s total restaurant landscape.

Houston Texas has more Mexican restaurants than any other city in the United States, followed by San Antonio and Los Angeles respectively, and these border towns understandably have a strong Mexican influence on the local cuisine. According to the 2010 US Census Data, Hispanic’s represent 14 percent of the total US population; with Houston having a Hispanic population of 31 percent, San Antonio 37 percent and Los Angeles 34 percent. Further down the list of U.S. cities with high Hispanic populations are Chicago at 23 percent and New York at 21 percent.

The Mexican menu type is the most popular ‘Latin’ menu type in Chicago, with more Mexican restaurants than all other Latin menu type restaurants combined. Other Latin restaurant types consist of Brazilian, Caribbean and other South and Central American cuisine types.

Further breaking down the numbers, 61.7 percent of Chicago’s Mexican restaurants are considered Full Service Restaurants. Full Service Restaurants have a wait staff with table service, and restaurants that fall into this category include: Family Style Dining, Casual Dining, and Upscale/Fine Dining establishments. In New York City, 69.4 percent of Mexican restaurants fall into the Full Service segment. Contrarily, 38.3 percent of Chicago’s Mexican restaurants are considered Limited Service Restaurants whereas in New York, 30.6 percent of Mexican restaurants are considered Limited Service. Limited Service Restaurants do not offer a wait staff and are made up Quick Service, Quick Casual and Delivery/Take Away.

While a plate of tacos in Chicago might be a bit more expensive than what you’d pay in Tijuana, Mexican food in Chicago is still a relatively affordable option. In Chicago, 69.7 percent of Mexican restaurants yield an average check that is less than $15. In New York City by comparison, 60 percent of Mexican restaurants have less than a $15 average check. This is due to the fact that there are a higher percentage of full service restaurants in New York which drives the average check higher. Another contributing factor is that in general New York is more expensive than Chicago. In New York City 11.7 percent of Mexican restaurants’ average checks fall into the $30-50 range, whereas in Chicago it’s only 5.8 percent.

And while affordable food is normally associated with large fast food chains, CHD Expert’s data suggests that this is not the case in Chicago. 86.9 percent of the Mexican restaurants are independently owned and fall into the Mom and Pop category, whereas big chains, which consist of companies with over 500 restaurants in operation nationwide like Taco Bell, only represent 8.2 percent of Chicago’s Mexican restaurants. By comparison, large chains in New York City represent more than 14 percent of the local Mexican restaurants.

“For those of us who live in Chicago it is not a surprise to see that Mexican Food has such a strong presence in the city” stated Alex Hernandez, Account Manager at CHD Expert North America. “Chicago is a multicultural city with a strong Latin authority and diverse culture. Famous chefs like Rick Bayless and Manuel Bañuelos, have made Chicago a top destination for Mexican food in the United States, and when you come to the city and taste these bold flavors you will certainly associate Mexican food with Chicago.”

To obtain a complete breakdown on the United States Mexican restaurant landscape, or to schedule a time to meet in Chicago during the 2013 National Restaurant Association Show please contact Brad Bloom

Restaurant Industry Trends: What we expect to see at the 2013 NRA Show

12 Apr

The 2013 National Restaurant Association Show is a little over a month away, and like many foodservice companies, we are busy preparing our teams, products, and marketing strategies for the NRA Show.

As we mentioned in last weeks post “CHD Expert Announces New Menu Type Segmentation Filters as part of Their Foodservice Database Web Based Query Tool, Easy2FIND,” we’ve rolled out new functions and features for one of our most popular foodservice marketing products, Easy2FIND, and we look forward to promoting this at the NRA Show. We’ve been busy sharing this new update with existing clients and spreading the word to prospects, as this new segmentation filter allows for a much deeper look at menu types. If you are interested in finding out about this product you can Click here for a free demo and 7-day trial.

In addition, we’ve also been working on a specific trade show strategy, and how we are going to “attack” the show so that we can make the most out of it. While we aren’t going to share the exact details of our plan, we will share with you is that we’ve been keeping our eye on some key restaurant industry trends. Outlining these trends allows us to prioritize who and what we want to see first at the show.

Here are three restaurant industry trends that we think are going to generate a lot of noise at the show:

  1. Heirloom “Anything” – The hottest new word on menus
  2. Communicating gluten free options
  3. Chicken is the new beef

Now, let’s break each one down from a high level.

Heirloom. Wikipedia defines heirloom as, “A horticultural variety that has survived for several generations…” We’ve always seen heirloom tomatoes at a farmers market., but now heirloom tomatoes have almost gone mainstream, and can be found in you local grocery store.

Today, we are not only seeing heirloom tomatoes, but we are also seeing a variety of other heirloom vegetables, like beans, potatoes, spinach, which have now popped up in farmers markets, grocery stores and on popular restaurant menus. Heirloom is one of the newest trends in the culinary world and we have been seeing appear on restaurant menus on a regular basis. People are becoming more and more conscious about what they are eating and where it comes from. So, the heirloom trends falls in line with the healthy, farm to table option that people are chasing after. What menus have you seen the word, “heirloom” on lately?

Communicating gluten free options. More and more people are finding out that they are allergic to different types of foods.  Today, most of us know someone who has a gluten allergy and as a result, has to keep a strict gluten free diet. While this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about gluten free options, we are now starting to restaurants start to add a symbol next to menu items that do not contain any gluten. This is only one of the many ways we are seeing the restaurant industry actively communicate to the gluten free community.

For example, did you know that the popular fast food chain Wendy’s has a separate gluten free menu which identifies gluten free items. Check it out! It’s just another example on how restaurants introducing gluten free options as more and more people learn that they have the allergy.

We believe that more and more restaurants are going to start coming out with gluten free options and products. We wouldn’t be surprised if we were to see a whole restaurant open that was dedicated to the gluten free community.  Would you dine at a gluten free restaurant?

Chicken is the new Beef.  It’s no surprise that popular fast food restaurants have been on a rampage to clean up their “unhealthy” image. Ever since the movie, Super Size Me, restaurants like McDonalds have been aggressively trying to improve their image and incorporate more healthy menu options. But now more than ever, we see that chicken sandwiches are becoming a popular alternative to hamburgers. Does this indicate the people are trying to moving toward perceived healthier options? We think so.

Here are two stories made headlines this past week on the Huffington Post: Chicken Passes Burgers on QSR Menus and McDonald’s Chicken McWrap To Be Added To Permanent Menu. Both call out the new chicken trend at fast food restaurants, which looks like it’s consumer driven, as people look for healthier options.

We hope that this has been insightful and even helpful as we approach the biggest show in foodservice. To learn more about CHD Expert, please feel free to check out our website or email us at

CHD Expert Announces New Menu Type Segmentation Filters as part of Their Foodservice Database Web Based Query Tool Easy2FIND

5 Apr

We have some exciting news to share!  We have made some improvements to Easy2FIND, our web based query tool, and have just rolled out a new list of filters that allow for more granular menu type segmentation.

Now for example, a company that is looking to sell Thai products to a Thai restaurant can select a “Thai” menu type, as opposed to just being able to select, “Other Asian” which was previously the only way to pull data on Thai restaurants. Our Asian Segment now includes the following menu types:

  • Chinese
  • Indian / Pakistani / Bangladeshi / Sri Lankan
  • Japanese
  • Sushi
  • Korean
  • Thai
  • Vietnamese
  • Other Asian (Cambodian, Malaysian, Indonesian)
  • Asian unclassified

We are excited to announce the launch of Easy2FIND’s new extended menu type segmentation, just in time for the National Restaurant Association’s Annual Show! This new segmentation allows users to take a deeper look at menu types and specifically filter for the exact segment they are looking for. Here are a handful of new menu types that have been added to our database:

  • North African (Tunisian, Algerian, Moroccan)
  • Lebanese
  • Vegetarian
  • South Western/ Tex Mex
  • Chicken wings
  • Russian
  • Pizzeria

For the full list of new menu types, please click here.

Are you attending the show and looking to get a head start at marketing to the companies you hope to connect with? If so, this might be a great opportunity to put together a marketing and sales list of restaurants, distributors, manufactures and any others that you hope to connect with at The National Restaurant Association’s Annual Show in May.

We can pull a one-time list for you or, if you’d like some help on how to best reach your target audience we also have foodservice consulting services as well. We’d be happy to do a live demonstration of Easy2FIND and discuss ways in which our foodservice products and solutions can help your business.

Please feel free to email for more information or to set up some time to meet.

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