Foodservice Concepts Are Key Component of Newly Energized HX-The Hotel Experience 2015

HX: The Hotel Experience - Rooms to Restaurants

HX: The Hotel Experience – Rooms to Restaurants, formally the International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Show (IHMRS) made a big splash as it debuted its new brand, mission and overall experience at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, last month. HX featured 469 exhibitors and 12,000+ registered attendees.

Kudos to show management who continued to deliver a “must see” agenda for restaurants and foodservice professionals. With all new environmental treatment, session areas, speakers, and event highlights, the multi-million dollar renovation made a big impression on lodging and foodservice executives who were in attendance.

Featuring areas on the show floor such as HX: Connect, where attendees and exhibitors could sit and meet face-to-face or just re-charge from the busy show floor, and HX: Studio that utilized its space to interview top hospitality industry executives, speakers and exhibitors of the show. One of the most popular additions to the show was the HX: Tech area, which included innovative and practical technology products and services, mini tech-education sessions with big takeaways, breakout-sessions about the newest industry technology and hands-on live support for the event’s mobile app. Plus, the tech team hosted the first ever HX: TECHPitch competition, where exhibitors could submit their best technology products.

The show’s 100th anniversary was guided by its new Chairman Anthony Mangano. A 30-year veteran of the hospitality industry, Mr. Mangano is currently President and majority shareholder of Syramada Hotel Corporation in Syracuse, NY. “Tony’s nine years of experience as a member of the IHMRS Board of Directors made him the perfect candidate to lead the Show during this centennial celebration year,” said Phil Robinson, Group Show Director, Hospitality Media Group (HMG), which manages IHMRS.

The Third Annual Tabletop Challenge Design Competition created a buzz on the show floor. The always innovative Dave Turner debuted a new format that featured two competitions – one for designers and a separate one for chefs. This year’s winners were Kendall Fleisher from the design firm Stonehill Taylor and Adam Foti, chef at Schenectady County Community College. With the winning designs incorporating products from sponsor companies such as EveryWare Global, Steelite International, VerTerra Dinnerware and MADHOUSE by Michael Aram, the 2015 Tabletop Challenge once again showed that you can never have too many great tabletop products on your table. The Tabletop Challenge event was co-presented by HX: The Hotel Experience and and was hosted by TabletopJournal’s Editor Dave Turner.  According to Turner, “This year’s Tabletop Challenge Design Competition was incredibly exciting…with a great crowd of spectators and lots of cheerleading for their favorite designer. Always a fun event, this year’s competitions were particularly raucous and – evidently it helped and we saw some of the best tabletop designs we have seen yet!” The Tabletop Challenge consists of teams of designers and chefs, using tabletop items provided by sponsoring hospitality tabletop companies, as well as additional “mystery” props, having 20 minutes to build their perfect tabletop. The “People’s Choice” vote was taken for each competition during the show.

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Five exhibitors received Editors’ Choice Awards during the Opening Day of the Show. The Awards recognize best new products within the categories of food & beverage, kitchen design, guest services, rooms division and technology.  From the five (5) winners, the Kenneth F. Hine “Best of Show” Award also was selected. Cardinal’s local rep Eric Weiss of Gotham City Design was called on to accept the Kenneth F. Hine “BEST OF SHOW” – Cardinal International: Reveal’ Up Soft Fresh Tumbler; FOOD & BEVERAGE: Cardinal International (Pine Brook, NJ) Introducing the Chef & Sommelier Reveal’ Up 11 Oz. Soft Fresh Tumbler made of their revolutionary and trusted Kwarx® technology providing mechanical resistance and superior transparency while retaining its unmistaken brilliance and clarity through 2,000 industrial dishwashing cycles. Complete with a new and innovative cooling gel base; perfect for chilling rosé wine; beverages, cocktails, white wine, sparkling wine and desserts.

KITCHEN DESIGN Evo Inc. (Beaverton, OR) The EVO Event is a technological breakthrough for front-of-house cooking. This self-ventilating portable griddle table is certified to work without an overhead hood, external vent system, or make up air.  It even is equipped with the latest in fire suppression technology from Buckeye.  It is truly a plug and play option for restaurants, corporate cafeterias, kiosk cooking, arenas, satellite kitchens, airport terminals, and grocery stores.

HX brought a new vigor to the show floor. Some of the industry’s most noted professionals vied for the top prize as Jeopardy came to the HX-Show floor at the Javits Center in NYC.

“Our goal was to bring a full slate of informative and fun events to the show,” noted the show’s General manager Phil Robinson. “The Jeopardy format lent itself to the show being a learning experience for each of our attendees.

The winning team of Larry Cantamessa of PBAC and Jacobs Beer Doland donated their top prize of  $500 to their charity of choice: The Partridge Scholarship Foundation.

Contestants fielded a series of questions that included everything from Celebrity Chefs to the latest cooking technology, and food and cinema. “It’s rather ironic that you are likely to see some of those very same celebrity chefs, many of whom are based in New York City at the show,” noted Total Food Service’s Fred Klashman. “Also our local reps brought much of the very latest technology to the HX-Show floor.”

At the top of the agenda for the newly branded HX: The Hotel Experience – Rooms to Restaurants (HX) show was a commitment to bring the latest restaurant and food service trends to its attendees.  Among the “can’t miss” demonstrations was the show’s Foodservice Pioneering Concept Competition.

This year’s award winner was: Bievenu. It featured a tapas and wine bar that unfolded from a box. The Architectural firm Bruner/Cott, Cambridge, MA, and foodservice design and consulting firm Colburn & Guyette, Rockland, MA, collaborated to create the small-plates concept.

Bienvenu, was the winner of the HX’ 2015 Foodservice Pioneering Concept Competition sponsored by HX, featured a full-size model of the concept featuring state-of-the-art equipment built on the Javits Show floor. The build out included the latest technology from Alto Shaam, Ecowalls, Enomatic, Perlick, RPI Industries, Inc. and Vegware.

“Whether you are a full service hotel, short stay hotel, corporate, healthcare or college/university foodservice operation, Foodservice Pioneering Concepts was a must-see,” said Marsha Diamond, foodservice business development consultant and strategic public speaker. “This space was full of great inspirations that showcased food creativity with innovative design ideas to generate revenue and impress your customers,” added Diamond. “The HX show was all about discovering new products, with attendees seeking insight about applying new products or design concepts to their existing operations,” said Phil Robinson, HX show General Manager.

Foodservice Pioneering Concepts did just that by combining the latest technologies and resources of select IHMRS exhibitors to create a retail venue in alternate locations/spaces that ‘wowed’ customers, capture profits and service opportunities and gave operators an edge in today’s competitive environment.

The Bienvenu unfolded silently from what appeared to be a high-top reception table that could be located in a lobby area of a hotel, retail mall or transportation concourse, in an academic setting or restaurant space. Unfolded, the concept comprises a small bar with bar seats, a POS counter fronted by a cold tapas display case and a wine bar. The station can be run by either one or two servers depending on volume, with self-serve wine being sold via a bar code wine ticket that customers purchase at the point-of-sale station.

The concept, serving a minimalist menu of a dozen or so small-plate selections, does not require complete set-up and takedown each day; it is completely self-contained with the exception of a roll-in, rollout under counter refrigeration unit (to store in the host site kitchen). Bienvenu folds away completely when the unit is closed and becomes a functional reception or foyer table/floral display.

The HX-Show brought a dynamic lineup of wine, spirits and cocktail creativity to Javits New York City which is home to many of the world’s top mixologists and bars. Many of those stars and bars call Manhattan and Brooklyn hotels home. So with the rebranding of the 100 year old event to the HX: The Hotel Experience — Rooms to Restaurants (HX), it only made sense that Metro New York focus on wine, spirits and cocktails and take center stage.

The show’s Beverage Experience program was housed at the BELLA BAR from Cafe Bellas on the show floor.  This year’s Beverage Experience, featured a series of informative sessions to showcase how an improved and elevated beverage experience for the hotel or restaurant guest can lead to higher guest satisfaction – and to higher profits – for the restaurant or hotel operator.

Utilizing the new and innovative Bella Bar as the stage, The Beverage Experience was held on the show floor in the middle of the tabletop section of the show, highlighting the importance that having the proper glassware, cups and saucers, etc. plays in the beverage experience for the guest.  Anchoring this year’s event was guest speakers Gregg Lewis of 1-800-Bartend and Restaurant Depot’s wine & spirits guru: Vlad Garcia. The Beverage Experience conducted sessions on improving the guest experience with coffee, tea, craft beer, high-end spirits, and wine. Each session was sponsored by a tabletop manufacturer who also showed why tabletop matters in providing the guest a quality beverage experience.

Gregg Lewis is the founder and president of 1-800-Bartend. The firm’s bartending schools are the largest Bartending training center for Bartending in New York, with bartending locations in Manhattan, NYC – Kew Gardens, Queens, Suffolk County, Nassau County, with Bartending schools on Long Island.

Lewis and his team were joined by Restaurant Depot’s Garcia who for the past three years has been entrusted with bringing Wine and Spirits to the nation’s largest cash and carry foodservice operator: Restaurant Depot. The veteran executive brings a diverse background of success from wine vaults to restaurants.

Young leaders and members of the hotel industry’s AH&LA Under 30 Gateway Committee shared how their generation is changing the hospitality industry and how to use the myriad of ways customers provide feedback – surveys, online reviews, Facebook, Twitter to improve the customer experience.

At HX OnStage – Restaurant -Tabletop Matters: Designing and Selecting Hospitality Tabletop in the Real World showed us how to improve your guest dining experience by making thoughtful and informed decisions about tabletop from a panel that included a product designer, food and beverage director/ chef, and sales and supply chain representatives.

At the Chef’s Roundtable, Fred Klashman, publisher of Total Food Service, moderated a conversation with New York metro area chefs on menu trends, kitchen technology, catering, and building a culinary team.

How to stand out among competing bars and restaurants and win profits with craft beer, Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers Association and publisher of, shared resources and tricks on tasting and pairing beer from small and independent craft brewers. She also updated her audience on craft beer trends and draught system best practices.

Fox Browne Creative, the Johannesburg, South Africa-based design firm behind such hospitality projects as the White Pearl Resorts in Ponta Mamoli, Mozambique and the Hotel Lamuu in Johannesburg, was selected as the 35th annual Gold Key Award for Excellence in Hospitality Design Designer of the Year.

“Choosing the Designer of the Year is always a challenge for our Gold Key judges. There are more and more firms creating work that is provocative in terms of its concept and innovative in its execution, and doing both extremely well,” says Mary Scoviak, executive editor, Boutique Design. “What made Fox Browne Creative stand out to this year’s judges was the immersive environments the firm creates by seamlessly blending FF&E and space plans with the architecture.”

“The Gold Key judges also liked the firm’s visionary mission statement: ‘By creating an unbroken chain of perfect moments for guests we hope that they left having fallen in love with the world all over again.  In short, we are inspired by hospitality and the positive impact it can have in the developing world,’” adds Scoviak.

Fox Browne Creative, Michaelis Boyd Associates and Nicholas Plewman Architects were also selected as 2015 Gold Key Award finalists in the Best Eco-Conscious or Socially Conscious Hotel and Judges’ So Cool categories for their project Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge in the Okovango Delta, Botswana.

Bringing more technology choices and strategies to the hospitality industry was a major focus of HX. One of the most visible tech improvements was the addition of HX: TECH, a 1,100 square foot tantalizing hub for experiencing new products and hearing new ideas. Team HX: TECH led hands-on training, demo new products and enlightened on such topics as evaluating web presence, going paperless, social media for events, mobile apps, revenue management, meeting design, productivity and more.

“A single place for hospitality technology with real depth and breadth hasn’t existed before HX:TECH,” said Mangano. “It’s more than a new product showcase, it’s a fully-staffed resource.” HX: TECH featured a TECHbar where attendees brought their own device (BYOD), asked their tech and app questions and quickly received answers and new solutions. Attendees could also experience the latest in tech wearables such as VR googles, MYO and gestured-based tech, smart watches and virtual keyboards.

The show marked the return of Stamford’s Des Hague, Co-Founder of Aegis Enterprises and Partner of WC&A, was one of three FCSI Project Showcase winners to have been invited to speak at the FCSI-sponsored Project Showcase panel at HX. WC&A was specifically recognized for its foodservice design and execution of plans during the recent renovation of the iconic Crystal Palace Marketplace. WC&A’s objective during this project was to enhance the “Crystal Palace” public space with a world-class food and beverage venue. Foodservice design/equipment budget was $1.5 million. As recent President of Centerplate, an international hospitality provider, Hague has spent the last six years managing hospitality at many of North America’s largest convention centers including Javits Center during the recent $465 million renovation, which allowed Hague to offer a unique perspective to the project discussion from the design side in addition to the food service provider’s side. Hague is now a Partner of WC&A, a hospitality design company that has executed over 12,000 projects globally since its founding in 1986.Topic of the panel discussion: What does it take to stand out in today’s market and how to transform a foodservice project need to yield bottom line dividends for end-users and owners.

“Whether renovating or building a new foodservice facility, it’s imperative that operators invest in the expertise of foodservice design professionals, like those on our FCSI panel,” said Beth Lorenzini, Editor-in-Chief, Foodservice Equipment Reports, Gill Ashton Publishing. “We were delighted by the panel of experts and they certainly provided a unique experience for our show. Clearly, they have delivered excellence and it was a great learning session for our members. The designer’s expertise and experience makes the difference between a great kitchen and a kitchen nightmare.”

Save the date and see what HX: The Hotel Experience – Rooms to Restaurants has in store for 2016, its second edition at the Javits Center in New York City, November 13-15, 2016.