The timing is right for the state of New Jersey. With over 17,000 eating & drinking establishments and over 500,000 employees in the New Jersey’s R&H and foodservice sectors, a new foodservice trade show has emerged. An event built for foodservice entrepreneurs, the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Expo is moving the restaurant and hotel industries forward with their first annual show being held on April 17th and 18th, 2019 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ.
Total Food Service sat down with NJRH Expo’s show director, Peter Romano to learn what’s in store and how the show will offer an excellent opportunity for both attendees and exhibitors with full two days of intimate networking.
Where did the idea come from to create this new show?
I’ve been in the trade show business for a while and I’ve worked with Reed Exhibitions on their New York, Florida and California food shows and the Global Gaming Expo.
We moved to New Jersey about two years ago and had been working on a couple of local hunting and camping shows. As I worked on those shows, I noticed that there was a booming restaurant and hospitality scene in North Jersey. I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a B2B event to cater to New Jersey’s foodservice operators’ needs, so I decided to start one.
Can you give us an overview of the North Jersey marketplace that is the NJRH Expo’s focus?
The restaurant hospitality scene in Hoboken, Newark and Jersey City has exploded in the last five years. They’re building the world’s third largest mall in the world in the Meadowlands, the American Dream project is over 100 restaurants and it’s a $4 billion-dollar project. On top of that there’s another $2 billion dollar project that’s happening in Sayreville right off the parkway. It is going to feature retail shops with restaurants. In addition, Atlantic City opened two new casinos in 2018 and with sports betting legal in the state, all the casinos and race tracks have now made it fan friendly to bet in their establishments by improving the drinking and dining options.
Potential exhibitors and attendees are going to want to know why can’t they just go to New York to see what they need to see at one of the shows at the Javits Center?
Very simple: NJ businesses doing business with NJ businesses. That’s what it was designed to do. NJ Operators will be able to stay in their state, come to the NJRH Expo, see the latest goods and services and not have to worry about paying a lot to attend the show.
Most importantly, we have set our booth prices to create value for our exhibitors. We want New Jersey businesses selling their goods and services to NJ restaurants, hotels, etc. Think of it as New Jersey centric event.
You’ve been involved in the design of many show floors. What are some of the key features that will make this event special?
We are building a floor plan from the center out. I’m looking at a core of 125 booths for our first year, we are just about at that goal. What we are going to do is limit the number of booths by limiting the number of categories. In other words there’s not going to be 12 POS (point of sale) firms or 12 insurance companies. Each exhibitor will have a chance to make money at the NJRH Expo. My vision is to create a show with busy booths of exhibitor and attendees doing business and the elimination of those empty aisles.
Based on that what is the ROI for a potential exhibitor?
If you are looking for hundreds of leads, we are probably not the show for you. If you pick up 5-10 solid buyers you’re going to make money and hopefully you are going to come back to our show. We kept the price very affordable for a B2B event and will continue to do so because we are going to build a solid event for years to come. We will not lose sight of our goal and that is to assist the exhibitors in making money.
Many of our readers ask us about what they can get from a trade show that they can’t get on the web?
It begins with the obvious: you can’t taste food or beverage online. The nature of the food beverage hospitality business is touchy feely. It always was and always will be so. Marketers should look at the internet as a way to pique your interest and then where can I go to sample it. Shows within this industry remain a priority because there’s a need for people to see, touch and feel that table or chair. You need to sit in that chair before you ask your dining patron to do so. The real difference that trade show experience brings is the relationship that is built between buyer and seller. With that comes access to expertise and the opportunity to build a custom solution to your restaurant’s specific needs.
Can you share some of the special events that you have planned for the show?
No celebrity Chefs, TV hosts with another f*#k%ng cookbook to sign or any of that nonsense. We have some great seminars on topics that matter, hiring, farm to table, training, marketing, etc. We want to offer our attendees access to the priorities the restaurant and hospitality operator are facing and get people in front of our exhibitors.