Restaurant Conferences & Trade Shows to Attend in 2022

Restaurant Conferences & Trade Shows to Attend in 2022
AJ Beltis

By AJ Beltis

You've waited long enough. Now that restrictions are lifting and we know how to travel safer in a world of COVID, restaurant professionals are gathering in-person at their favorite restaurant conferences.

With so many different events on the horizon, you'll need to plan accordingly. Here are some of the most noteworthy restaurant conferences and events to attend, as well as some information to help you decide which ones are the best for improving your restaurant business.

7shifts Staff at National Restaurant Association Show
The 7shifts team at the National Restaurant Association Show

BITAC Food and Beverage

BITAC- short for Buyer Interactive Trade Alliance and Conference - offers a more personalized environment for executives looking to improve their restaurant business with strategic investments and purchases. Advertised as a place for “uninterrupted private meetings between decision-makers and solution providers,” BITAC allows for several in-depth conversations between attendees and suppliers of equipment, furnishings, and technology needed to scale and sustain a restaurant business.

  • Website: BITAC Food and Beverage
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Restaurant Equipment and Technology
  • When: January
  • Where: Sonoma, California
  • Ideal Attendee: Restaurant Group Owners and Executives

Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference

This event (abbreviated MURTEC) is the restaurant conference to attend if you run a multi-unit restaurant business and are on the lookout for the right technology to help scale and support your business. The event's benefits are two-fold: attendees get to meet other multi-unit restaurateurs to learn what solutions work for them, and they get to interact with dozens of restaurant tech companies to see these solutions in action. Since restaurant technology is always evolving, attendance at this conference ensures your restaurant group is staying ahead of the tech curve.

  • Website: MURTEC
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Restaurant Technology
  • When: March
  • Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Ideal Attendee: Multi-Unit Restaurateurs
7shifts Staff at MURTEC
The 7shifts team at MURTEC

The International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York

Been pining for a visit to the Big Apple? Or maybe you're a New York local who doesn't want to travel too far.

Either way, this New York restaurant show is for you. Spanning three days in one of the world's most renowned food destinations, this conference has something for everyone, with courses for independent owners and multi-unit operators. The show advertises “emerging trends abound on the show floor” as you learn from and network with countless like-minded restaurateurs.

Food Marketing Conference

How'd you like to hear marketing tips from folks who have worked for Proctor & Gamble, Microsoft, and PepsiCo? With more than 30 speakers and 800 attendees at the 2022 event, the Food Marketing Conference - hosted by Western Michigan University - is the event for restaurateurs hoping to spread the word of their business to the right audiences in the most cost-effective ways. Key themes from this year's conference included the need for restaurants to embrace ecommerce to appeal to more diners and setting the right goals for the year.

  • Website: Food Marketing Conference
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Marketing
  • When: March
  • Where: Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Ideal Attendee: Restaurant Marketers

Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit

The opportunities and challenges that franchises face aren't always the same as their single-unit counterparts. This conference is dedicated to utilizing the resources that franchises have available to them to help franchisors ensure their franchisees succeed. Topics from the 2022 agenda included marketing with limited resources, finding the middle ground between franchisors and franchisees, and taking control of your customer data. Executives and leaders from Bar Louie, Blaze Pizza, Chipotle, Church's Chicken, and other prominent franchises have shared their advice at this conference.

  • Website: Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Franchise Staffing, Branding, Operations, and Innovation
  • When: March
  • Where: Nashville, Tennessee
  • Ideal Attendee: Franchisors and Franchisees

Bar & Restaurant Expo

Attended by more than 10,000 bar and hospitality professionals in 2022, this event is ideal for bar owners, as well as proprietors of restaurants with a bar that want to improve their liquor program. Attendees are synonymous with nighttime entertainment - from nationwide behemoths like Dave & Buster's and Hard Rock Cafe, to regional favorites like New Hampshire's Thirsty Moose Taphouse. Classes and sessions hosted at the 2022 conference include the anatomy of failure, menu trends, social media, and thriving in a virtual landscape.

  • Website: Bar & Restaurant Expo
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Alcohol, Bars, and Nightclubs
  • When: March
  • Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Ideal Attendee: (Restaurant and) Bar Owners
7shifts Staff at Bar & Restaurant Expo
The 7shifts team at Bar & Restaurant Expo

International Pizza Expo

There's no better restaurant conference to attend if you own a pizzeria than this one. There are dozens of seminars, education sessions, workshops, keynotes, and competitions. It's simply impossible to accomplish everything that you want to. Learn how to make different pizza styles, expand into new locations, engineer your menu, or even renegotiate your lease. Not to mention the ongoing World Pizza Games, where you'll witness the world's fastest box folders and dough stretchers work their magic. The show balances fun with practical tips for helping your profit margins rise.

  • Website: International Pizza Expo
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Pizzeria Operations, Marketing, Staffing
  • When: March
  • Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Ideal Attendee: Pizzeria Owners and Professionals
7shifts Staff at International Pizza Expo
The 7shifts team at International Pizza Expo

Restaurants Canada Show

The Restaurants Canada (RC) Show is Canada's leading destination for connecting with, learning from, and becoming hospitality experts. The RC Show is a three-day extravaganza with vendors to meet and an ongoing series of stages to keep you entertained (and educated).

2022's lineup featured stages dedicated to culinary trends, bar & beverage panels, and a general speakers stage. Plus, attendees got to witness the National Barista Championship qualifiers and have the chance to attend an industry night out. Who knows what's in store for the 2023 event, already scheduled for next April?

  • Website: Restaurants Canada Show
  • In-Person or Virtual: Both (In 2022)
  • Topics: Restaurant Trends, Marketing, Staffing Challenges, World Cuisine Influences, and More
  • When: April
  • Where: Toronto, Ontario
  • Ideal Attendee: Canadian Restaurant & Hospitality Professionals

MAPP Restaurant Reset Conference

A conference for women chefs and restaurateurs, MAPP Restaurant Reset aims to create a more equitable business environment for its attendees. Speakers at the 2022 event included Karen Akunowicz from TV's Top Chef and Michelin star winner Emma Bengtsson. Attendees can meet mentors, learn how to recruit better, and learn how to ensure a healthy restaurant from a physical and mental standpoint. Oh, and did we mention there's beach yoga to start off the day?

  • Website: MAPP Restaurant Reset Conference
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Mentorship, Culinary Training, Women in Hospitality
  • When: April
  • Where: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Ideal Attendee: Female Hospitality Professionals

Restaurant Leadership Conference

McDonald's, Shake Shack, and IHOP were just a few of the brands represented by the lineup of speakers at the 2022 RLC. The topics at this conference are useful and compelling - such as securing a competitive advantage and creating a workforce education program. Plus, when you're not attending awesome sessions, you can take a trip to the spa at this Phoenix hotel or partake in the event-sponsored activities like the pickleball tournament or the Arizona desert Jeep tour.

  • Website: Restaurant Leadership Conference
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Leadership, Thought Leadership
  • When: April
  • Where: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Ideal Attendee: Restaurant Executives
7shifts Staff at Restaurant Leadership Conference
The 7shifts team at RLC with Jason Wang of Xi'an Famous Foods

National Restaurant Association Show

The granddaddy of all restaurant events, the National Restaurant Association Show bills itself as the “largest annual gathering of foodservice professionals in the Western Hemisphere” since 1919. It's the ideal show for anyone who wants to improve their restaurant business - there are educational tracks on culinary insights, consumer trends, and technology strategies, among others. Plus, some industry leaders from brands like Inspire and P.F. Changs were among the lineup of renowned speakers for 2022.

You'll leave this show with expert knowledge on new marketing tactics, an understanding which tech can improve your business, and plenty of new connections.

  • Website: National Restaurant Association Show
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Restaurant Operations, Technology, Health & Wellness, Workforce Recruitment & Development
  • When: May
  • Where: Chicago, Illinois
  • Ideal Attendee: Any Restaurant Professional
7shifts Staff at National Restaurant Association
The 7shifts booth at the National Restaurant Association Show

FAB Conference

Just one-third of restaurants are majority woman-owned. The FAB Conference wants that number to be higher with its two-day workshop for women in the hospitality space. Topics covered at the event balance issues like sustainability, vulnerability, and working while supporting a family with tactical tips on media training, navigating the supply chain, and - above all else - staying profitable.

  • Website: FAB Conference
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Running a Successful Hospitality Business as a Woman
  • When: June
  • Where: Charleston, South Carolina
  • Ideal Attendee: Female Hospitality Professionals

Digital Transformation in Fast Casual and QSR Summit

This two-day workshop's focus is on the continuous pivots that fast casual restaurants and QSRs have had to make during the pandemic. From the rise of off-premise orders (and the technology that the trend requires) to using tech to improve the customer experience, guests will leave equipped with the knowledge of which technologies are worth investing in to appeal to a wide audience.

The Northwest Food Show

Local to the PNW region? The Northwest food show is a great option for those in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and Northern California. Topics covered include everything from marketing best practices to labor trends, with the opportunity for private consultations with foodservice experts. Not to mention - a cooking demonstration stage, a tasting pavilion to find new suppliers, and plenty of technology exhibitors and equipment demonstrations to improve your operations.

  • Website: The Northwest Food Show
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Operations, Food Cost, Labor Trends, Restaurant Branding
  • When: June
  • Where: Portland, Oregon
  • Ideal Attendee: Pacific Northwest Restaurateurs

Texas Restaurant Association Show

Saddle up for three days of learning about how to help your restaurant thrive. There will be plenty of educational opportunities - from interactive sessions, to live demos, to a keynote presentation. Plus, it's an opportunity to (re)connect with thousands of Texas restaurateurs. When you're not taking notes on new tactics to try in your restaurant, buddy up with someone at the Lone Star Bash and Texas Restaurant Awards Show, or swing by the BMI Up & Comers Music Stage for live music throughout the conference.

  • Website: Texas Restaurant Association Show
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Technology, Trends, Marketing
  • When: July
  • Where: Dallas, Texas
  • Ideal Attendee: Texas Restaurateurs

Pizza Leadership Virtual Summit

Not quite comfortable traveling across the country to attend a conference with thousands of strangers? Well, if you own a pizzeria, look no further than the Pizza Leadership Virtual Summit. This is a virtual, half-day, free restaurant conference for pizza leaders. If that price tag isn't enough to get you to sign up, maybe the list of the 2022 speakers is: the CEO of Blaze Pizza, the VP of Operations at Oath, the Co-Founder of &pizza, and the President of Anthony's Coal fired Pizza & Wings - among others - will be passing off their sage advice on how to keep your pizzeria successful in these ever-changing times.

  • Website: Pizza Leadership Virtual Summit
  • In-Person or Virtual: Virtual
  • Topics: Labor Management, Supply Chain Management, Customer Expectations
  • When: July
  • Where: Online
  • Ideal Attendee: Pizzeria Owners and Professionals

Western Foodservice and Hospitality Show

The Western Foodservice and Hospitality Show welcomes restaurant professionals to the LA Convention center for three days of education and networking, with hundreds of vendors and purveyors to learn from and meet. In addition to live culinary performances, expert roundtables, and awards ceremonies, there are dedicated program tracks to hyper-focus on where you want your restaurant to grow the most: including Bar & Beverage, Marketing & Social Media, Operational Excellence, and more.

  • Website: Western Foodservice and Hospitality Show
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person (with a potential virtual option if needed)
  • Topics: Restaurant Trends, Beverages, Marketing, Operations
  • When: August
  • Where: Los Angeles, California
  • Ideal Attendee: California and LA-Area Restaurateurs

FSTEC

Speakers at FSTEC - one of the leading events for learning about restaurant technology - have included leaders from CAVA, Panera, Honeygrow, and other restaurants that have revolutionized the way technology is used in both guest-facing and owner-facing ways. With more than one thousand attendees and 70 speakers, conference-goers have a forum for learning concrete strategies for implementing technology to improve their restaurants. Sessions don't just cover the state of restaurant tech, but also highlight integrations, how to secure staff adoption of tech, payments, and what's on the horizon.

  • Website: FSTEC
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Restaurant Technology
  • When: September
  • Where: Grapevine, Texas
  • Ideal Attendee: Tech-Savvy Restaurateurs (or Those Who Want to Become Tech-Savvy)

Fast Casual Executive Summit

This restaurant conference is targeted towards leaders of fast casual restaurants and chains. The subject matter is more advanced than what might be found at other conferences on this list - topics covered in the 2022 agenda include using AI for your drive thru and dissecting customer visit data.

That said, there's plenty of time for discussion and networking. The event has a built-in “Brain Exchange” for small groups to discuss the most pressing issues to them. Speakers from Sweetgreen, Chipotle, Del Taco, Mooyah Burgers, McAlister's Deli, and more make this conference hard to ignore if you're in the QSR or fast casual space.

  • Website: Fast Casual Executive Summit
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Technology, Staffing, Trends, Supply Chain Management, Operations
  • When: October
  • Where: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Ideal Attendee: Top-Level FSR Executives

#QSRNext

A newer entry to this list of restaurant conferences, #QSRNext is celebrating its second year on the virtual events circuit. This one-day event acts as a forum for QSR leaders to exchange ideas on how to improve their fast food restaurant. Specific topics on this year's agenda include technology needs, delivery trends, labor issues, and more. Registration is free for qualified restaurateurs, and with quick 30-minute sessions, attendees can log on, make new connections, receive some actionable advice, and still have plenty of time to prep for the dinner rush.

  • Website: #QSRNext
  • In-Person or Virtual: Virtual
  • Topics: QSR Trends
  • When: November
  • Where: Online
  • Ideal Attendee: QSR Leaders

Restaurant Finance and Development Conference

While you'll still see technology and food vendors at this event, the focus of this restaurant conference is the business's bottom line. Sessions cover topics pertaining to finances, the economy, accounting, growth strategy, and restaurant technology. The conference, which takes place over three days, has several specialty workshop timeslots dedicated to bringing and keeping a restaurant business in the black. Investors, journalists, restaurant executives, and other speakers will be there to provide their recommendations on where restaurants need to invest heavily and cut back substantially in order to see the largest return on their investments and purchases.

  • Website: Restaurant Finance and Development Conference
  • In-Person or Virtual: In-Person
  • Topics: Restaurant Finance
  • When: December
  • Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Ideal Attendee: Restaurant Sole Proprietor, Partner, or Director of Finance

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AJ Beltis
AJ Beltis

AJ Beltis is a freelance writer with almost a decade of experience in the restaurant industry. He currently works as a content specialist at HubSpot, and previously as a blogger at Toast.