At 100, the future of restaurants is bright

The National Restaurant Association turns a century old.
Photograph: Shutterstock

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association Show. The Association formed after a group of restaurateurs in Kansas City, Mo., organized an egg boycott to protest rapidly rising prices from egg brokers. That action would launch a national organization that would help protect the foodservice industry from the negative impacts of Prohibition, the Great Depression and World War II rationing.

During the last hundred years, the restaurant industry has grown to be the nation’s second-largest private sector employer, employing more than 15 million people, and serving more than 170 million customers each day. Over the next decade, we expect the number of employees to increase by more than 1 million, and early projections indicate that restaurant and foodservice sales in 2019 will exceed $850 billion. Looking ahead, we are confident restaurants, and the people who put their hearts and souls into this industry, will continue to thrive and will remain the backbone of American communities.

We start 2019 with some exciting opportunities brought to us through a major partnership with Winsight Media, parent company of this publication. This collaboration is transformational for our Association as we seek to better serve the emerging and changing needs of our industry. We will gain new media to deliver best-in-class content, drive member value, broadcast our advocacy messages, advance our industry’s stories and provide data-driven insights to fuel our industry’s growth and profitability. Each month, on the pages of Restaurant Business, readers can now find insights from the Association on topics such as industry economics, technology and e-commerce, workforce development, issues emerging at the local level, and national public policy. The partnership also fuels the continued growth and success of the National Restaurant Association Show, May 18-21, 2019, at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Dawn Sweeney

Dawn Sweeney

This collaboration is a transformation for our Association as we seek to better serve the emerging and changing needs of our industry.

Also happening soon is our 33rd annual Public Affairs Conference, March 27-28, in Washington, D.C. The theme this year, Restaurants: Serving America’s Future, spotlights the results we have been able to achieve by working with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to implement workforce development initiatives, promote apprenticeships and provide healthcare options to the industry’s employees through Association Health Plans. We are looking forward to sharing the work of the Association and the Educational Foundation with key stakeholders in our nation’s capital.

Our National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation is dedicated to providing people from all backgrounds the training, education, financial resources, and career development they need to build pathways to meaningful jobs and careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry. The Foundation and its supporters share a mission to attract, empower, and advance today’s and tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice leaders.

The Foundation is creating limitless opportunities for our next generation of restaurant leaders through its portfolio of industry-leading programs. We have pledged to train and prepare more than 370,000 people over the next five years for meaningful jobs and careers across our industry.

Each year, the Foundation also celebrates excellence in diversity, community service and industry leadership with its prestigious Faces of Diversity, Restaurant Neighbor and Ambassador of Hospitality Awards. In addition, the Foundation’s Civilian Military Travelers program visits military bases around the world to assist the military in evaluating culinary management, culminating in annual awards for the best military foodservice operations.

2019 is set to be a very exciting and successful year for the Association, Educational Foundation, and the entire foodservice industry. Our people are our greatest asset, and the driving force behind the industry’s success. I look forward to working alongside you all to set the table for another 100 years of growth and service success.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


4 things we learned in a wild week for restaurant tech

Tech Check: If you blinked, you may have missed three funding rounds, two acquisitions, a “never-before-seen” new product and a bold executive poaching. Let’s get caught up.


High restaurant menu prices mean high customer expectations

The Bottom Line: Diners are paying high prices to eat out at all kinds of restaurants these days. And they’re picking winners and losers.


Podcast transcript: Puttshack CEO Joe Vrankin

A Deeper Dive: The chief executive of the minigolf-centric restaurant chain discusses how the chain focuses on higher-quality games and food.


More from our partners