Day 1 at the NRA Show saw new products, new booths, and overall new looks for many tabletop companies as they move to strengthen their brand messages.
On the product side, color in dinnerware continues to make a comeback with the emphasis on colored glazes, but also there were glimpes of a renewal of decorated patterned china. Trying to achieve the look and feel of handmade pottery, while still retaining the practical qualities necessary in foodservice dinnerware is not easy....but several manufacturers have made excellent products, mostly in natural colored hues.
Libbey's new POTTERS TOUCH from its World Tableware collection was one of several colored glazed dinnerware collections being shown at this year's NRA Show
Glassware continues to evolve with more beverage-specific glassware being shown. And, it seems everyone is trying to find a way to capitalize on the craft beer craze which shows no signs of abating. For operators who are looking to improve their wineglass selection, there appear to be more opportunities than ever as new shapes abound at nearly all price and quality levels.
Flatware and cutlery designs seem to be taking a turn to a more contemporary styling, many incorporating a textured finishing. Companies like Steelite offering many of their flatware patterns in multiple finishes.
Traditional tabletop companies are also continuing their push in buffet and cookware systems. Oneida, Bauscher, and Steelite all are showcasing various forms and systems for banquet and catering cooking.
Not sure if it is an entirely new trend but there seemed to be multiple instances of products on display to gauge customer reaction and to gain feedback than we recall in the past. This may owe to manufactures' reluctance to invest too much in a new product line without specific feedback which makes sense in an era where "what's new" is the most often-asked question.
New looks for tabletop exhibitor booths was the order of the day with several companies like Dudson, Bauscher, and MCIC having expanded and reconfigured there layouts to better enhance their product line presentations.
And, overall, traffic in the aisles at least seemed lighter than anticipated. Anecdotal evidence from various vendors seemed to support the fact that day one traffic was light. However, you'd wouldn't know it from the long waits at the bus and cab lines at closing.
On to Day 2.
Service Ideas' Steelforme showcased its new ability to customize serving pieces and tabletop accessories.