The 37th annual Bar & Restaurant Expo, held March 27-29 in Las Vegas, was the largest in five years, with a total of 11,477 attendees, a 10% increase over the 2022 event.

The expo floor opened on Tuesday, March 28, with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by Food Network celebrity chef Jet Tila, who cut the ceremonial ribbon alongside Bar & Restaurant Group Vice President Tim McLucas. In addition to Tila, other celebrities, guests and chefs graced the red carpet, including Robert “Kool” Bell from Kool & The Gang; celebrity mixologist Mia Mastroianni; celebrity chef Brian Duffy; Jackie Summers, the keynote speaker and founder of JackFromBrooklyn and Sorel Liqueur; and Phil Wills, co-founder of Spirits in Motion.

Also on the red carpet, McLucas presented Shelia Bennet, executive director of CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees), the official charity partner of Bar & Restaurant Expo, with a $5,000 donation on behalf of the expo.

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this photo shows celebrity chef Jet Tila walking the red carpet in front of a large Bar & Restaurant Expo-branded banner

Jet Tila (Bar & Restaurant Expo / Instagram)

Tila presented the opening keynote session, sharing his journey from immigrant son to world-renowned chef and the lessons he’s learned throughout his entrepreneurial career. Day two kicked off with a dual keynote session by Summers and Susan Fedroff, co-owner of Clover Club, Leyenda and MilLady, who presented critical leadership skills that apply to all stages of developing a new business.

On the expo floor, buyers had access to 400 exhibitors, a 52% increase compared to 2022, plus an expanded program of exciting live culinary demos by a team of high-profile chefs, including Duffy, Larissa DaCosta, Kevin DesChenes, and Kayla Robison, who showcased the latest food and equipment innovation that enhances revenue and the guest experience.

Guests also sampled delicious dishes that included Honolulu street garlic shrimp; Nikkei-style crispy pork belly causa; and short rib Penang curry pressed sandwiches.

“Seeing the rapid growth in participation from attendees and exhibitors this year has been amazing considering where the industry was just three years ago,” McLucas said. “New business opportunities are thriving in the industry right now, and we’re focused on supporting operators as they grow their businesses and expand their food and beverage offerings that appeal to their customers’ evolving needs.”

This year’s Bar & Restaurant Expo also featured the first-ever Japanese Food & Beverage Showcase, in which 50 exhibitors presented a mix of top Japanese products, flavors and globally renowned specialties. There was also the Restaurant Zone, a 15,000-square-foot area dedicated to restaurant equipment, food and solutions. The new Non Alc Chill Zone showcased what’s new in the fast-growing industry of non-alcoholic beverages.

Bar & Restaurant Expo capped off the year with the 2023 Industry Excellence Awards ceremony. Mastroianni presented the awards, with categories including community leadership, bartender of the year and best hospitality training program. Find a full list of the 2023 winners here.

Kim Haasarud of Liquid Architecture was presented with the Industry Impact Award, which recognized Haasarud’s passion for the industry and her help advancing the industry in a significant way.

The 2024 Bar & Restaurant Expo will return to Las Vegas March 18-20, 2024.

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