3 Key Insights on Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology from the 2019 NRA

Bematech Blog - July 19, 2019

NRA 2019Each year, industry leaders come together under one roof for the annual National Restaurant Association show to look at current trends and discuss what’s on the horizon for the hospitality industry. This year marked its 100th anniversary, drawing crowds from every corner of the country to discuss the latest technologies that are driving the evolution of the modern restaurant.

Here are a few main takeaways from the 2019 NRA show when it came to technology for your multi-unit restaurant:

Adaptability for Success

Restaurants all compete for a share of the consumers. This was a key point discussed by Applebee’s president John Cywinski. The competition within the restaurant industry is high. Since the industry is constantly evolving, the best way for owners of multi-unit restaurants to keep their chain competitive is by being adaptable and agile in the market.

Right now, customers want delivery, convenience, and an easy online experience. Restaurant owners who are agile enough to incorporate tools to meet these demands such as integrated delivery management, customer loyalty apps, online ordering, and more will reap the rewards and proved the enhanced customer experience that keeps customers coming back.

Going Green—Food and Beyond

Another key trend that was frequently mentioned at the 2019 NRA was the push for sustainability within restaurants. There are a number of ways restaurant owners can improve sustainability, whether it is through their menus or their practices.

One way to do this is to change up your offerings and add more plant-based products to your menu. Allow customers to substitute nut and oat milk, which are becoming increasingly popular with trendy younger generations and health-conscious customers. Vegan meat substitutes are also on-trend and sustainable.

Healthy foods aren’t the only way you can “go green,” however. There has been a huge push towards sustainable goods and multi-use products. Replace paper cups with ceramic coffee mugs, switch out plastic coffee stirrers for bamboo, and offer biodegradable paper straws instead of single-use plastic ones.

When selecting technology that will help conserve both product and money for your multi-unit restaurant chain, consider moving towards digital systems for order preparation and kitchen communication. For example, implementing a kitchen display system will have a direct impact on paper reduction, cost of printer maintenance, and food waste from mistakes made due to lost and illegible ticket.

Specialty Food and Beverage Draws Large Crowds

Foodies and people who enjoy good flavor are attracted to specialty food and beverage. This isn’t necessarily a new trend, but it does help restaurants stay competitive. 2019 NRA provided a few examples of how restaurants can cash in on this trend in new ways to attract customers.

Beer and wine tasting events have successfully helped multi-unit restaurant chains attract new crowds. These tastings provide a way for employees to interact with guests in a more relaxed atmosphere, and guests can try new drinks or sample bar food that they may not have ordered otherwise.

Rely on your point of sale technology to help direct cocktail ideas that will cater to the cravings of your guests. Analyze data to see what brands, prices, and combinations are ordered most frequently. Then, create a specialty cocktail menu that builds upon these preferences.


The 2019 NRA show is always a great opportunity for leaders to discuss what’s happening within the restaurant industry and what’s on the horizon. As this year’s centennial show came to a close, a major consensus was that multi-unit restaurants leveraging technology tools will capitalize most on current and future trends.

Bematech offers a wide selection of technology for multi-unit restaurants designed to help your business be more agile and meet constantly-shifting customer demands. For more information on how our technology can position your chain for success, contact Bematech today.