Vendors fill NC Restaurant & Lodging Expo

The North State Journal—The North State Journal
David Peraza-Arce

RALEIGH — Vegetables were sizzling on grills, a food truck offered mixed drinks, and exhibitors educated attendees about food safety at the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Expo on Aug. 29-30. Exhibits filled the downstairs of the Raleigh Convention Center to offer information to restaurant and lodging customers. Booths offered freshly made sandwiches, craft beer, pastries and more. For US Foods, it was an opportunity for them to meet with their current customers and discuss their products to potential customers, according to Stephen Horne, the Eastern North Carolina business development manager for US Foods.”We want to be here to support our customers that show up and potentially gain new customers as they come by,” Horne said. “Just have a presence here to show our appreciation for the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association.”The expo also offered networking and learning opportunities for people hoping to get into the restaurant or hospitality industries, like Timothy Gray who is a student at Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C. “We had the opportunity to work with some of the chefs over there that are doing the competitions, and so my fellow students and I are gaining knowledge basically learning to elevate our craft to go to another level,” Gray said. “It’s also a chance for us to see things at first hand — for us to taste different kinds of foods, learn about local vendors.”One of the booths, ECU School of Hospitality Leadership, provided a resource for people interested in starting their career. Robert O’Halloran, professor and director for the school, said he recommends students try the restaurant and hospitality industry out because there are some common misconceptions. He said most don’t realize the industry comes with a lot of variety, like being in the front or being behind the scenes, and includes careers like event planning. “There are a lot more opportunities than restaurants and hotels,” O’Halloran said. “If you never have worked in the industry, go in and get a job in something — go get a job working table or the front desk — but working with the public can be challenging, so see if you like it.”