Providing jobs for 13 percent of North Carolina’s workforce and generating more than $24 billion annually, the restaurant, food service and lodging industries are growing, driving forces in North Carolina’s economy.
The state was home to 18,169 eating and drinking places and nearly 1,800 lodging properties in 2015, according to reports from the National Restaurant Association and the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
The restaurant and food service industries are expected to grow by 14.5 percent by 2026, adding 67,900 jobs for a total of 526,400. The two industries have projected sales of $18.1 billion for 2016.
“North Carolina and the Triangle area have experienced exponential growth in new restaurant and lodging establishments,” said Lynn Minges, president and CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association. “The growth in recent years has been staggering and that trend is projected to continue.”
The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Expo, which will be held at the Raleigh Convention Center from Aug. 29-30, recently opened registration for its second year. Established by the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association in partnership with Exposition Development Company from Atlanta, Minges said the goal was to create an event that brings together the restaurant, foodservice, lodging and hospital industries, and the most exciting outcomes is the networking.
“You should see a room full of chefs, restaurant owners, and hotel owners and operators when they get together! They’re usually busy working in their establishments and don’t often have time or opportunity to get together,” she said. “The expo puts them together for two days and the energy is amazing!”
Last year, the expo had approximately 1,800 attendees and 150 exhibitors.
“We are seeing strong response from the hospitality community again this year and aim to grow the show by 20 percent annually for the next two years,” Minges said.
Advance registration for attendees is $25 and on-site registration is $50, according to the association’s website.