Close to 9,000 attendees learned from seminars, sampled new and existing brands of liquor, and checked out a variety of furniture, gimmicks, games, and foods at Questex‘s 35th annual Nightclub and Bar Show in Las Vegas on June 28 -30, 2021.
It had been a two year wait due to the pandemic, but the event, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center was a great return. The three day gathering which brings nightclub, bar and restaurant professionals is managed by Questex. Questex literature boasts that the company, “brings people together in the markets that help us live better longer and the technologies that enable experiences.” It also produces the VIBE Conference, World Tea Conference & Expo, and daily content on barandrestaurant.com.
The gathering featured more than 31 exhibitors, 45 workshops and conference sessions designed to improve operations. This year’s show also included an interactive F&B Innovation Center, Sports Bar, experiential NxT area, offsite mixology trainings, keynote, an Employment Zone, Tea Bar, Food Festival, and co-location with World Tea Conference + Expo.
THE RED CARPET
Attendees crowded the ropes for a close-up view of a number of well know celebrities and others who walked the red carpet prior to the official ribbon cutting.
Sheila Bennett and Gretchen James accepted the donation on behalf of CORE. A long-time charity partner with the Nightclub & Bar Show, and sister-show VIBE Conference, Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE) is a national nonprofit dedicated to serving food and beverage employees with children to provide financial relief when either the parent or their child faces a health crisis, injury, death, or natural disaster.
Kathryn Lott accepted on behalf of Southern Smoke, a first-time charity partner of the annual show. The nonprofit assists food and beverage service employees and has successfully provided relief funds throughout all 50 states toward those battling health crisis, natural disasters, mental health, the COVID-19 pandemic and more.
Celebrities, honored guests, and chefs also graced the red carpet including, Sammy Hagar, Rick Springfield, Morgan Heritage members Peter “Peetah” Morgan, Roy “Gramps” Morgan, and Memmalatel “Mr. Mojo” Morgan; E-40 and wife Tracy Stevens; NCBS Executive Council Members Mia Mastroianni and David Kaplan; Chef Pete Blohme aka “Panini Pete”; celebrity chef Brian Duffy; Food & Beverage Innovation Kitchen chefs Jennifer Behm-Lazzarni, Kayla Robison, Chad Rosenthal, Kevin Des Chenes, Monti Carlo, and Matt Varga; and Co-founder of The Spirits in Motion, Phil Wills.
The Expo Floor
The expo floor included booths promoting everything a bar, nightclub or restaurant owner might need. Of course there were a lot of spirit suppliers passing out samples. And a lot of folks anxious to do the sampling. Finance and security companies were also present. I was especially intrigued by the number of companies promoting environmentally friendly straws. A sign of the times.
Sammy Haggar Fireside Chat
We especially enjoyed attending a fireside chat with rocker and spirit celebrity Sammy Haggar. The “Red Rocker” gave an intimate look at his journey from from rock ‘n roll star to godfather of celebrity spirits and philanthropist. Sammy partners with Rick Springfield and also Guy Fieri in his ventures. He is again producing high end tequila as well as a variety of rums. He will be marketing a line of ready to drink rum drinks in the autumn of 2021. Sammy also announced his planned residency at The Strat in Las Vegas.( His first weekend was sold out in two hours.)
The first day of the exhibits ended with a massive food festival welcome party. Small bites of shrimp, chicken wings, fried chicken and more were provided by six food trucks. Of course a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks were available.
Sponsors of the Food Festival Welcome Party included Truly Hard Seltzer, Heineken, White Claw, PathSpot, Chaco Flaco, MixitFresh, Booze Cream, Silver Hawk Vineyards, and Think Twice
In true Vegas fashion, the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights Drumbots welcomed attendees . As guests gathered, Tim McLucas thanked everyone for their participation in this year’s show and officially announced that the Nightclub & Bar Show would transition to Bar & Restaurant Expo beginning in 2022. The new name better reflects the focus of the Expo.
Next year’s event will take place from March 21-23 in the Las Vegas Convention Center. If you are in the industry attendance is a must.