Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Tradeshow

One week after the successful event at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe in Willow Glen, the Duke Marketing team was off to the second tradeshow of the year. This time it was the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Tradeshow held in Orlando, Florida! Thankfully we had planned to have all the boxes shipped ahead of time and had nothing to worry about except getting to the airport on time.

We arrived in Orlando on Thursday September 4, tired from the long flight and ready to eat. Fortunately, we were staying at the classy Peabody Hotel, located directly across from the convention center where the tradeshow was being held.

The First Day of the Tradeshow and the Hard Rock Cafe Party...

Friday September 5th marked the first day of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Tradeshow. The Duke Marketing team had a lot to look forward to especially that Linda was speaking three times and moderating a panel for the Fast Casual Alliance. On top of all of this, the Duke Marketing Team was really excited to bring the word of Recipes for Restaurateurs to the East Coast and generate some great sales.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Tradeshow was much bigger than the Western Foodservice Show, which meant more great samples from vendors. Thankfully, the Duke Marketing booth was located only a minute away from the gourmet cheese, so we never went hungry while working. We also made sure to get Recipe for Restaurateurs placed in the new product booth so we could participate to win best new product!

Linda presented an informational seminar on Recipes for Restaurateurs and received a coordinal introduction from world renowned, master chef, Ferdinand Metz, who let the crowd know to “Fasten Your Seatbelts,” due to Linda’s crowd-pleasing energy. That night the Duke Marketing team was excited because we were going to a party at The Hard Rock Café located in Universal Studios City Walk. The theme was casino night and the Florida Restaurant Association that was sponsoring the event had rented out the entire restaurant including the entire top level, which was filled with casino machines. Laura was very thrilled because her friend, Rachel, who is originally from Orlando, was going to be in town and was accompanying the Duke Marketing Team to the party.

When the Duke Marketing Team, arrived at Universal City Walk, Laura was so surprised at how many people were there even during the night! Along the short walk to the Hard Rock Café, we saw a fountain light show, the Universal Studios Globe and experienced the hot, humid Florida air. Once we got to the Hard Rock Café, the Duke Marketing Team met up with our new Peruvian friend, Rafael; we had met at the tradeshow earlier that day. We had a great time talking about Latin America and learning about some of the cultural customs of the country, especially Pisco Sours, the signature Peruvian cocktail. Linda, having been to Peru, ironically because Rafael’s good friend invited her, had some great stories to share with us as well. When the party was over, we decided to stroll around Universal City Walk and tried some margaritas at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville before calling it a night.

Photos from the Hard Rock Cafe Party:

Linda and Michael with flashing leis!

Laura and Rachel at Universal City Walk

Our Peruvian friend, Rafael, and Laura at the Hard Rock Cafe

The Second Day of the Tradeshow:

The next day, Saturday September 6th, the Duke Marketing team was off to the tradeshow again. Rachel got to come and experience the tradeshow and fill her stomach with food and drink samples. Linda moderated an informative panel discussion about the Fast Casual Phenomenon with Paul Baron of Fast Casual Magazine, the COO, Don Fox, of Firehouse Subs ( and CEO, Richard Babboni, of Franktitude ( She got some really amazing feedback from audience members and landed some more book sales.Linda even managed to sneak a video interview in with Paul Baron for Fast Casual web.

At the tradeshow we noticed that many of the operators and owners of restaurants were looking for solutions to increase sales during the current economic recession. Educating these inquisitive operators was very empowering for the Duke Marketing team because we were able to show them Recipes for Restaurateurs, which is a valuable resource that operators and can afford to purchase which can help them increase sales, without lowering their prices.

That Saturday night, the Duke Marketing team was in need of a great meal to compensate for the time that we had not had to sit down and eat. Fortunately, the Peabody had just the food that we were in the mood for, delicious Italian cuisine. The restaurant was beautiful and covered with gorgeous black and white marble floors and tables. Linda even imagined sleeping on the luxurious marble floor, or more practically using it to cover her kitchen counter tops. After finishing our delicious dinners, we ordered many desert shooters. These were small tastes of different desserts served in slender, shot glasses. Apple pie, chocolate mousse and strawberry shortcake were some of our favorites. Best part about them is that only one spoon could fit in the glasses at one time, which made it easier to hog the best flavors.

The Final Day of the Tradeshow:

Sunday was the last day of the tradeshow. Linda made a wonderful presentation on Local Store Marketing to over 60 operators and shortly after she finished we were packing up all of our boxes to be shipped and off to the airport. We couldn’t believe that the tradeshow went by so quickly and we were all so excited to return to the Bay Area to our homes and cool weather.

Laura McKee getting silly at a mascot booth at the tradeshow

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