The 2010 North American Pizza and Ice Cream Show at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Ohio had a surprisingly robust turnout for a year when most foodservice providers are still being choosy about their travel and other expenses. Here are a handful of exhibitors from the showroom floor that we found particularly exciting.
Better menu boards:
National Sign Systems showcased its Play Pak - Plug & Play digital offering, which plays loops of 30-second animated scenes at indoor ordering stations. The signage comes loaded with some themes, but users can create and load their own animations from their laptops via USB.
The company also unveiled a very new "Pizzaz" menu board, which has a rich, 3-D look but boasts a low replacement cost: Users can easily switch their own glossy menus in and out of the plastic mounting.
Food trucks, fast:
All A Cart Manufacturing, Inc. vehicle customization company is capitalizing on the popularity of food trucks like Streetza Pizza by marketing its full-service build-outs of culinary mobile vehicles. Besides retrofitting old vans with custom kitchens to foodservice standards, the company works with contractors to provide vehicles and even design work to clients who need it. The company has been selling more eco-friendly battery operated Gem Carts lately.
New flavor profiles:
RDP foodservice unveiled a few new flavor profiles at the show, including versatile buffalo wing/dipping sauces of tequila lime, orange glaze and sweet red pepper.
Fishbowl, a turnkey e-mail marketing solution provider for literally thousands of big-name restaurants, showcased the suite of services surrounding its main offering of managed e-mail campaigns. Association alliances manager Joe Gabriel said integrating social media with such e-mail opt-in programs allows an operator to capture more meaningful contact information for its customers. The company may look to add geolocation-oriented text messaging services, and more analytics in the future.
Leveraged loyalty: Saxon Incorporated's "Pull A Deal" sticker cards have been around for over a decade, but the company's newest offering is a box-topper pull-off card. That helps operators turn any takeout customer into a potential rewards program member.