The 13th Annual Bar & Restaurant Show will hit the Jacob K. Javits Center in NYC on June 26th and 27th. Operators today can’t pigeon-hole themselves into concepts like "I’m a nightclub operator" or "I’m a restaurateur.” Today’s market place often demands more than the usual revenue streams. Club guys basically sell air and booze, and restaurateurs throw in food. Money from before-hours or late bar sales may keep a place afloat or help it suddenly thrive. More than ever, nightclub operators recognize the need for a food component/kitchen since it helps the venue maximize corporate catering revenues and provides early revenue streams. Look around town and see the pairing of the restaurant with the lounge as the norm. Trade shows give hospitality managers the latest info that can change red ink to black. I asked Steve Wesler- CEO and producer of The Bar & Restaurant Show for On-Premise – to tell us all about it.
What will make this 13th annual show a lucky bet?
The lucky bet is that I guarantee attendees will leave with more information and knowledge then when they arrived. After years of hearing from On-Premise Food and Beverage Professionals’ owners and operators complain that they are overwhelmed, with no time to attend Las Vegas trade events and no one to help them develop better tools to succeed, it became obvious to me that this is the right approach for the industry; keep it local, keep the educational series relevant and simple, bring in new and hot products and services that can only be seen at our show, and make the show floor fun and user-friendly.
What type of innovations will visitors see and be able to bring back to their bar or club?
Social media and how the competition is using it is the latest innovation that has developed with the acceptance of the smartphone. How do you create an app that will increase traffic and not cost a fortune? They will be able to compare different approaches and products so they can make an educated choice among the various new apps available at the show. New digital signage, quick printing for advertising, social media awareness, and POS systems will all be highlighted through product displays as well as through our seminars.
Tell me about the liquor components to the show.
There are a few components when it comes to spirits and wines. Cachaca from Brazil, new whiskey brands, spirits directed toward women, acceptance of kosher wines for everyone, as well as the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition, that takes place during the show. This Competition is produced by Anthony Dias Blue, and hundreds of new wines and spirits are being judged for medals that these manufacturers can use for promotion and advertising. This is where so many new brands come before they hit the street.
Who is showcasing their products and who typically attends?
Brand manufacturers, distributors, APP developers, POS, craft spirits and beers, NY wines, kosher wines, furniture, bar games, mixers, music, lighting, signage, ATMs. The people that attend are owners and operators of bars and restaurants, beverage and food directors, distributors, importers, casino staff, caterers, bartenders, chefs and their staffs.
Nightlife is constantly evolving. What are some of the innovations or trends now commonly used in the industry that were hawked in the last 13 years?
One of our sponsors is the Hero Campaign, which promotes having a designated driver. They promote this through the bars and restaurants to make sure they don’t over pour. This is a national trend which is being an absolute trend throughout the industry.
Other trends include more computerization through POS, and inventory control systems that help multi-unit establishment control theft and keep their employees honest.
One of our seminars is The New York Cocktail Scene Trends, moderated by Mike Ginley of Next Level marketing. The panel includes representatives from Zubrowka Vodka, Pisco Porton, Ultimate Vodka, and a mixologist from the Boom Boom Room. These guys are on the front line of what is happening in NYC and throughout the US and world.
Age verification is much more sophisticated than it used to be. Systems now can identify phony licenses and IDs quickly.
What are people in the industry NOT doing now that they used to do?
Smoking, doing drugs on site, putting drunks out on the street. Managers of these establishments are more aware of the liability that is present everyday in their establishment. Fire liability is a constant issue if bands and performers use smoke and fire. Insurance will not protect licensees if drugs are found on the premise and if you over pour to your patrons. There is also much better age verification now, as compared to everyone years ago having a phony ID.
What makes your spirits competition unique?
It all goes back to who the judges are; Anthony Dias Blue of Blue Lifestyle, is the editor of The Tasting Panel and the executive director of the San Francisco Int’l Spirits and Wine Competition. He heads our competition. The judges include VPs, directors, sommeliers, journalists, and presidents from such places as Corton,Junoon, Landmarc Tribeca, Bourgeois Pig, Gin Palace, and Huckleberry Bar.
Are mocktails a real trend? Have bars promoted and seen an increase in serving these to sober patrons, designated drivers, or families? What’s the audience for mocktails?
One of the hardest things to do when you go out with friends and family is to be a teetotaler. Our Mocktail Competition is unique and the first of its kind. It allows customers to feel like they are drinking but without the side effects of alcohol. Is it trend? According to the Hero Campaign, designated drivers are looking for more than soda and fruit juice. The Mocktail Competition, sponsored by Ocean Spray and one2one.com, has created many new recipes that are unique and quite tasty. The winner can walk away with a $1,000 prize; 2nd place:$750, and 3rd Place:$250. The judges rate the cocktails on taste, appearance, originality, aroma, and overall impression. Participants have six minutes to make four drinks.
Why New York? What makes it the right place to hold this show?
There are more establishments with a liquor license within 100 miles of NYC than any place on earth. And where else can you see the best theatre, museums, a wide range of hotels, great restaurants and bars, visit Little Italy or Soho, see sports, sightsee, and more. New York City is the entertainment capital of the world and that is why we are here.