March 7th through 9th saw the 31st annual Nightclub & Bar Convention & Trade Show, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The show features dozens of seminars and workshops, along with a huge trade show presenting to attendees the latest and greatest of products and services being offered to the nightclub and bar industry.
Oh yes, and there were parties too.
Although the show started on Monday, it wouldn’t have been right to start our Las Vegas visit without a visit to our favorite area restaurant Echo & Rig. Chef Sam Martin [who was actually presenting a workshop at the convention on brunch trends] has created a food-lovers paradise in Summerlin just twenty minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. I wrote about the restaurant several months ago, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here. But I do want to make a couple of comments – free corkage is still in effect, the wait staff operates like a well-oiled machine, and although I had planned to order a blood-rare steak, our server sold me on the brisket and I have to say it was a life-changing experience.
Moving on to the start of the convention on Monday…
As I mentioned, there were lots of choices of what sessions to attend, from restaurant management to staff training to social media to drink trends to menu design and everything in between.
We chose to attend the Super Session: Ask the Experts, a panel discussion moderated by Thom Greco of Greco Holdings, Inc, with the following panelists: Chef Brian Duffy of CBD Solutions, Brad Bohannan of Spirits on Bourbon, Nancy Hadley of Nancy Hadley’s FAC and Russell Davis of Unlimited Liabilities.
Opening Remarks were hosted by Dave Elger of HotMixology and included the Bartender of the Year presentation to Nectaly Mendoza of Herbs & Rye in Las Vegas and followed by the keynote speaker: Jimmy Bernstein, founder of the successful Howl At the Moon chain of nightclubs.
The trade show in the expo hall officially opened on Tuesday, but before that we attended….
The Keynote presentation by chef and restaurateur Cat Cora and Tobin Ellis of BarMagic.
A few overriding trends worth noting…
People aren’t just sitting and drinking as much anymore and are really looking for food to have with their libations. So, whether you are a gastropub, restaurant or dive bar, you need decent food to hold people’s attention and get them to stay [and keep spending]. Pairings, flights and choices are important.
Bar and restaurant owners often open their business to feed their own ego and provide an experience accordingly. But, you need to put your ego aside and create an experience that your customer wants.
Look at your club through the customers’ eyes, literally. Get their opinions, sit where they sit, and think about how what they see, drink and eat impacts their desire to stay and return to your place of business.
Oh, and gelatin shots are really big. Found that out at the party the previous evening and also by way of the number of the shot producers at the trade show…which was now ready to get started with the red carpet and ribbon cutting ceremony presided over by Oscar nominated actor Chazz Palmenteri.
The trade show was one of the largest I’ve ever attended. From glassware to inventory management to bar furniture, along with lots of bar samples, the event had something for everyone.
Some of the standout samples for me were:
Angel City Brewery
Lagunitas Brewing Company
Left Hand Brewing Company
Savile Premium Rumtini
Tequila Don Nacho
My own observations and comments from others lead me to believe that this convention is well worth the investment for people who are in the bar, nightclub and restaurant industry, as well as for anyone thinking about getting into that business. One of the attendees who we bumped into in our hotel elevator was bemoaning the fact the he was losing so much in the casinos but he was still well very happy to have made the trip out from Long Island NY to attend.
Not to mention the parties.
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. Michael is also Vice President of Eve Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) http://evebushmanconsulting.com/ and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.