Special Reports

There from the beginning

A deep dive into the industry’s history sheds light on where we’re going.
Illustration: Matt Herring

Our centennial package presents a break from our traditional Restaurant Business content in order to celebrate. As the official magazine of the National Restaurant Association, we’re taking this opportunity to pay homage to a momentous occasion—the 100th anniversary of both the Association and the National Restaurant Association Show. It’s a chance to take a historical look at how we, the restaurant industry, got to where we are today.

Since the Association and the national trade show launched in 1919, each decade has had an impact in shaping the business. Within that time, there have been innovative restaurateurs, long-standing families with industry involvement, game-changing equipment suppliers and concepts—some that are still around and others that have closed—that have challenged business as usual.

That’s what’s exciting about this industry: It’s constantly changing. Yet at its heart, hospitality remains the key differentiator. No matter what kind of restaurant diners frequent, from old-time soda shoppes to modern fast casuals, operators have maintained a focus on “the experience.” Innovations have shifted restaurant service and operations, but that attention to the guest remains. 

And Restaurant Business has been there from the beginning. Launched in 1902 as The Soda Fountain, our magazine has been a part of the evolution. We’ve stayed true to our goal to help operators run their businesses better, covering menu trends, operational changes, technological and equipment innovations and topics such as politics and diversity that others have been afraid to touch.

As the industry has changed, we’ve changed along with it. The RB team is proud of our long history, and we’re excited to continue to serve as the leading B2B media brand for the restaurant industry. 

Click here for more insights and information on the Centennial.

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


It's time to send 'ghost kitchen' to the graveyard

Tech Check: The catch-all term for delivery restaurants is no longer accurate. Let’s lay it to rest and come up with a new label.


Higher-end consumers may be slowing their spending

The Bottom Line: There is some evidence that higher-income consumers may be cutting back. Or maybe there was just some pent-up demand.


Wonder bets meal kits aren't dead yet

Tech Check: By acquiring the struggling Blue Apron, the restaurant delivery concept believes it can touch more dining occasions. But will it work?


More from our partners