10 Conferences Restaurant Pros Should Attend in 2019

By Caroline Cox | 5 min read

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a restaurant professional who doesn’t describe their career as “fast-paced.” But taking the time to learn about industry trends, hear people’s success stories, and connect with others in your industry at restaurant conferences can have huge benefits — both personally and for your company as a whole.

But, with all of the restaurant conferences out there, it can be overwhelming to determine which ones will be worth your time. Below, we’re giving you all the details about 10 conferences that are sure to help you grow in your restaurant career.

Restaurant Facility Management Association Annual Conference

Restaurant Facility Management Association Annual Conference

February 10-12 in Austin, Texas

The Restaurant Facility Management Association is an organization that works to equip their members with the tools they need to advance their careers and businesses. The RFMA conference is geared specifically towards restaurant facility professionals. The three-day event includes dozens of vendors, opportunities to network with restaurant peers, sneak peeks at the latest industry technology, and sessions chockfull of time- and money-saving tips.

Conference highlights include:

  • Stand-out sessions on “Females in Facilities” and RIFtalks (the association’s inspiring version of TED Talks)
  • A golf tournament that kicks off the event, as well as a 5K Fun Run
  • Daily links sent to attendees during the conference to watch the RFMA TV show, where they interview attendees, staff members, and restaurant pros

Catersource Conference & Tradeshow

catersource

February 24-27 in New Orleans, Lousiana

Chef demos, sales techniques, ideas for new ways to connect with clients, and the opportunity to mingle with other pros from across the world are just a few of the things you can expect from Catersource. With an emphasis on creativity and innovation, this conference aims to leave you with an overflow of ideas about ways to make your business better than ever. (Plus: this year’s conference will feature an appearance by award-winning Australian celebri-chef, Curtis Stone.)

Conference highlights include:

  • 100+ sessions on everything from building your beverage program to leadership for all generations
  • The Future Star contest, awarding a career-changing $8,000 prize package to a lucky winner with a new catering business
  • The Interfusion After Dark after-party, where attendees can let loose among flashing lights, live entertainment, and DJs spinning dance tunes

International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York

International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York

March 3-5 in New York, New York

Some of the biggest names in New York restaurants, like Marcus Samuelsson and Amanda Cohen, have made appearances and hosted inspiring sessions at this international conference. This year’s three-day event, happening at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, promises to be no different. Join more than 10,000 restaurant and foodservice professionals to gain insight on everything you need to know to succeed in this ever-expanding industry.

Conference highlights include:

  • Center Stage, the educational, interactive and entertaining area for attendees who want the 411 on the latest food trends and more
  • The Beacon Award, which will recognize a women leader who has provided exceptional leadership, contributions, and inspiration
  • A “Why Whiskey?” tasting and education workshop — need we say more?

Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit

Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit

March 11-13 in Louisville, Kentucky

With a focus on forward-thinking restaurant chains, the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation summit promises to offer insight, success stories, and creative tactics for growing a franchise. The three-day event is perfect for those operations, payments, development, and more. Whether through new technology, out-of-the-box marketing strategies, or inventive menu additions, attendees are sure to leave plenty of inspiration to share with their team members.

Conference highlights include:

  • 2019’s featured speakers include pros from Auntie Anne’s, Krystal, Schlotzsky’s Deli & Bakery and Your Pie
  • Session topics on everything from digital marketing ROI to helping your customers conquer self-service
  • Attendees can participate in the conference’s Community Give-Back Party, bagging apples and making sandwiches for Louisville community members in need.

MURTEC Conference

MURTEC

March 11-13 in Las Vegas, Nevada

Happening in the buzzy Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, the Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference is all about the intersection of multi-location restaurants and the technology that helps them succeed. Expect dozens of inspirational speakers, hours of networking opportunities, and plenty of interactive vendors exhibits that’ll give you a first-hand look at the latest gadgets.

Conference highlights include:

  • Two can’t-miss keynotes — “Become an Organization of the Future” by Emmy-nominated host of National Geographic Channel’s Brain Games Jason Silva, and “Disrupting Digital Disruption” SPV & CDO MGM Resorts International Kelly Smith
  • An awards ceremony for the Top Women in Foodservice Technology
  • Speakers from big-time companies like Applebee’s, Dunkin’ Brands, Inc., and Sonic Drive-in

Annual Food Marketing Conference

Annual Food Marketing Conference

March 26-27 in Grand Rapids, Michigan

For more than 50 years, Western Michigan University’s Annual Food Marketing Conference has gathered professionals across the restaurant and hospitality industries. The two-day conference helps these attendees network, connect, and learn how to improve their food marketing strategies. And don’t forget to check out the beverage & bar, food station, and gaming sponsor booths to learn more about what other innovative companies are offering.

Conference highlights include:

  • Hearing from execs at brands like Smucker’s, Kroger, Pinterest, and Kellogg’s
  • Sessions on digital best practices, personalizing customer experiences and more
  • The closing keynote, “Winners Dream: A Global CEO’s Life Lessons in Sales, Motivation, and Leadership,” by SAP’s CEO Bill McDermott

Restaurant Leadership Conference

Restaurant Leadership Conference

April 7-10 in Phoenix, Arizona

Restaurant pros looking to hone their leadership skills will flock to the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in April for the annual Restaurant Leadership Conference. Hear from a wide range of influential speakers, get tangible tips you can put into practice to excel in your career, and rub elbows with thousands of attendees, from operators and supplier partners to senior management.

Conference highlights include:

  • Impressive sessions from professionals behind big names like PepsiCo Foodservice, Yum! Brands, and the National Restaurant Association
  • Retired NBA star and Chairman/CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises Earvin “Magic” Johnson as a featured speaker
  • Hiking tours, an indoor skydiving experience, a tennis tournament and more for adventurous types

National Restaurant Association Show

National Restaurant Association Show

May 18-21 in Chicago, Illinois

This is a special year for the National Restaurant Association, as 2019 marks the show’s 100th year. In honor of its centennial, they’re hosting a four-day conference that promises not to disappoint. Anticipate a firsthand look at the latest cutting-edge equipment, innovative ingredients, impressive chefs demos galore, and compelling multimedia presentations that are sure to inspire.

Conference highlights include:

  • A Young Professionals party to celebrate the foodservice industries rising stars, with a reception at a local Chicago bar
  • A friendly competition where the city’s best bartenders will compete to be named “Chicago’s STAR Mixologist.”
  • A live concert experience by country singer and four-time Grammy winner Keith Urban

FS TEC Conference

FS TEC Conference

September 8-10 in Dallas, Texas

Can’t get enough of food and tech? This annual conference, happening this year at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, is all about the future of the foodservice industry. Over three days, get tips, tricks, and advice for building a smarter business that stands out from the crowd. Expect to learn about security, software development, marketing, and the most innovative tech solutions out there.

Conference highlights include:

  • Plenty of interactive booths providing a hands-on experience with the latest tech tools
  • Impressive speakers — last year’s lineup included key market players from TGI Fridays, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and many more
  • Along with speaking sessions, the conference offers boot camps and education workshops

MUFSO Conference

MUFSO

October 14-16 in Denver, Colorado

This year, the Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators conference will celebrate its 60th anniversary by hosting its annual event in Denver. Showcase your company, learn best practices, and make valuable networking connections at this premier three-day event. Last year, the conference covered buzzy topics such as plant-based meat substitutes, emerging brands making waves, and tackling unconscious bias at your company.

Conference highlights include:

  • 2018’s conference featured a memorable keynote by famed restaurateur José Andrés that attendees couldn’t stop talking about
  • Multiple award sessions, including the Golden Chain, honoring outstanding multi-unit foodservice executives
  • A signature Shake, Sparkle & Stir competition featuring the year’s hottest cocktails

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Caroline Cox
Content Marketing Manager

Caroline Cox is Gather's Content Marketing Manager. She spends her time crafting blogs, thought leadership pieces, case studies, social media content and more, helping empower restaurants and other event venues to streamline their planning process and grow their events programs with success.

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