It’s Expo Time! Two Days, One Location, and Thousands of Attendees

Ocean City is getting down to business in a few weeks, and that business is all things hospitality! Make plans to experience the excitement and energy of the hospitality world as countless product innovations will be showcased in Ocean City on March 4 and 5. The 44th Annual Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association Trade Expo takes place in the Ocean City Convention Center. And it’s truly a coming-out-of-hibernation event as the resort welcomes the return of many loyal exhibitors and showcases new and emerging regional companies and products.

Three halls of opportunity
Filling three halls of the Convention Center, this Expo has grown to be one of the area’s premier industry events. Attendees have the opportunity to see, touch, taste, and experience the latest trends in every component of the hospitality business. With just over 400 exhibit booths, operators will leave armed with new ingredients, knowledge, equipment, and inspiration to successfully run their business. This face-to-face interaction provides a valuable, efficient, and cost-effective opportunity to do one-stop shopping and product comparison.

Mixing it up — chefs competition
The Delmarva Chefs & Cooks Association has once again created an opportunity for chefs to compete during their American Culinary Federation competition. Culinary arts continue to play a vital role in our communities, and competitions raise the standard of excellence. There is no better way for culinarians to hone their craft than by putting their skills and knowledge to the test in a competitive format. The event will take place prior to the Expo — Saturday, March 3 at the Worcester Technical High School kitchen — and will include both best dish and mystery basket competitions.
Competition chair Paul Suplee is currently taking applications for competitors. Suplee is a professor of culinary arts at Wor-Wic Community College and has received numerous culinary medals and awards for competing. He is the past vice president of the DCCA. Participation in ACF approved competitions will also earn you continuing education hours for ACF certification. For more info, contact Paul Suplee at:, 443-880-1986,

Craft beer connection
For those restaurateurs who are ready to grow profits and support a local movement, read on!
Close to 30 breweries, from throughout Maryland and lower Delaware will be featured in the Dockside Hall. Take a moment to learn from these breweries how to implement a craft beer beverage program — as the brewmasters will be on hand to discuss all the aspects of their craft.
One of those brewers is Big Oyster Brewery, which now features a 16-ounce can. Stop by booth 1105 to sample the brewery’s Hammerhead IPA, Dang! IPA, Noir et Bleu Belgian Tripel, and Solar Power Belgian Witbier. Sixteen-ounce 6 x 4 packs are available from Carey Distributors.

New products are plentiful
Attendees will be able to test their heat limits on UTZ Hots! — new hot pepper kettle style potato chips. Flavors come in tomatillo salsa, cayenne chili sauce, and “scorpion” pepper — all set at “burn, blaze, or lava” heat limits. Also being unveiled: the wavy Heluva Good! Buttermilk Ranch gluten-free potato chips. Stop by UTZ Quality Foods, booth 323, to take the heat test!
During its first sales year last year, Dr. Stoner’s won silver medals for its Fresh Herb Vodka and for Dr. Stoner’s Smoky Herb Whiskey at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. In addition to being very well received by expert tasters, sales indicate that the spirits have also been warmly received by the buying public. In just nine months of sales, the fi rm has sold more than 5,500 cases of Dr. Stoner’s Spirits. Future plans include the addition of a Dr. Stoner’s Crazy Herb Tequila — Hierba Loca. Sample Dr. Stoner’s in booth 2400.
Layton’s Umbrellas has redesigned its Aluminum Market umbrellas! The frame now features a polished silver aluminum and upgraded end tips with a screw and grommet system. To top it off, a new finial (top of the umbrella) has been added for extra style. Take a peek at the umbrellas in booths 628-631.
The Exotic Bean is a U.S. distributor for Paradise Mountain organic coffee from Thailand. It specializes in providing the highest quality, USDA certified organic, direct trade, shade grown, fully sustainable coffees from Thailand. Meet the Exotic Bean in booth 316.
Madhouse Oysters will be introducing a new brand of sustainably raised oysters. These are being raised on the Madhouse farm in Chincoteague Bay and will be ready for this season. Meet the folks behind the oysters at booth 2500.
Focusing heavily on outdoor weatherproof metal signs, Plak That now has the ability to CNC cut the signs into any shapes after printing. They are made of aluminum and come in a variety of sizes. You can meet Ocean City native and owner Wyatt Harrison in booth 900-901.
MS Walker Wholesale will feature its limited-release West Cork Glengarriff Series Peated Single Malt & Black Reserve Irish Whiskies, which, according to Vince Grande, are “absolutely stunning quality!” He will also feature Grand Mayan Silver and over-aged Anejo Tequilas, which are hand-crafted and artisanally produced using only 100 percent pure central highland blue agave. Look for this packaged in a hand-made and painted ceramic decanter at booth 2600.
Pinnacle Communications Corp. has introduced digital signage packages for the hospitality market beginning at $2,500, including installation and support. Customers can select wall-mounted, 1080p displays, ranging from 43 to 95 inches wide, that include a cloud-based content management system, Chromebox computer, Interactivity, wayfinding, and beaconing, according to Paul Payette, Pinnacle VP & GM of digital signage solutions. Learn more about this cloud-based management system at booth 101.
Oxley’s Extra’s exciting line-up of products is available through privately owned local businesses, restaurants, diners, bars, liquor stores, etc. in our market areas and now through This veteran-owned small business will feature 26 new steak sauces, Bloody Mary mixes, and BBQ and hot sauces. Sample these at booth 1002.
Summer J. Artisan Ice Pops LLC, will be in booth 2102-2103, showcasing Delaware’s first all-natural gourmet ice pop company. After a family member was diagnosed with cancer, owners Queon Jackson and his wife Alicia became committed to creating something healthy — and they created Summer J. Pops, named after their daughter Summer. These sweet treats can be guilt free, as they contain real fruit and do not have refined sugar, preservatives, or artificial flavors. These ice pops are certified vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free and can be purchased individually and in boxes of four. Make sure to say hello to Queon J. and sample a pop!
Picklehead LLC will be featuring its Tip Tough product, which protects chefs’ fingers. The founder of Tip Tough is a young entrepreneur whose chef-father always came home from work with deep cuts. So RJ designed the Tip Tough to protect his father’s fingers. Now, everyone else can stay safe in the kitchen, too. You’ll fi nd this product at booth 1201.
Stop by booth 1004 to talk with Frank. He can bring Serv Safe Food safety manager’s classes to your restaurant, even with as few as three students. Let him come to you!
After working with several different recipes and conducting numerous tastings, ArcticBuzz™ has cracked the code and delivers a homemade, hand-churned, smooth vodka frozen dairy dessert. To take things a step further, the firm will work closely with local distilleries to create artisan flavors that are formulated solely for their product. Currently, ArcticBuzz™ features six flavors of a hand-crafted vodka that provides outstanding taste for each and every palate. Find the Buzz at booth 1122.
Delmarva Two-Way Radio, Inc. of Ocean City has announced its association with other Motorola 2-Way Dealers in establishing the new “Mid-Atlantic Digital Radio Network.” Based upon the Motorola “MotoTRBO” System, companies that provide delivery and service vehicles in the Ocean City/Delmarva area are able to converse legally with drivers while traveling. The system also includes GPS tracking that can be viewed via Smartphones and PCs. Businesses will gain better control of vehicles, scheduling, and route management — all while saving money! “This system reminds me of the old Nextel system,” stated Milt Warren, Delmarva Two-Way president. Check it out at booth #110.
Maryland Plastics is introducing a new line, Sea Glass, where innovative design meets impeccable quality! These beautiful and functional plastic bowls range in size from 16-oz. to 10-quart in size and are available in both blue and green. Stop by and see Dick White in booth 103.
Kombucha continues to make headlines for its benefits to our health. Now, it will make headlines as one of the newest products to the Expo! Stop by AC Beverage’s booth 1103 to learn more about Komboucha on tap!
The Bank of Delmarva has opened a new branch in West Ocean City, and, in addition to traditional teller services, this branch boasts a custom-developed room for cash business transactions. It’s called CoinPlus. CoinPlus solves a problem that many cash-dependent businesses have: keeping enough cash — in the right denominations — on hand all the time. CoinPlus users can place orders for the cash they need whenever they need it. Customers receive a key fob giving them entrance to the front door of the branch and the CoinPlus room, where there are 28 CoinPlus lockers/vaults. The customer uses a fi ngerprint on the machine inside the secure room, and only one person can occupy at a time to access his or her locker/vault. Then, the fi ngerprint is pre-programed and releases a key to that specifi c locker. Stop by booth 2101 to learn more.
VIVOTEK has a new stereo counting camera that tracks people movement in real time, with an accuracy of up to 98 percent. This metric will provide business owners the tool to make operational decisions and increase their ROI. Check it out at the VIVOTEK & Maloney Telecom booth 2001-2002.

Educational Sessions
The OCHMRA Trade Expo is more than just a trade show. It is a complete learning experience for improving business. DEAL WITH IT: Positive Marketing with Video & Handling Negative Reviews will be presented by Todd Collins, COO at Restaurant Reputations. This firm offers cloud access, loyalty programs, online orders, line busting, and digital marketing. Hear real life examples about how restaurants can potentially make more money or service their customers better by implementing new solutions. Essential Systems Solutions and Cohn Reznick will be leading this session. Additional sessions are being added, and a complete list will be available in the March issue as well as on the Expo website.
Meet Shaun O’Neal
Winner of MasterChef season 7, Shaun O’Neale has been orchestrating dance floors from the DJ booth for almost 20 years and refining his culinary skills in home kitchens for just as long. In the late 90s, O’Neale found his love for electronic music and quickly climbed the DJ ranks in the underground rave scene, performing regularly with some of the pioneers of the dance music industry. In Tampa, Florida, in 2003, Shaun would begin to move out of the underground scene and into the mainstream, taking residency at some of South Florida’s most legendary nightclubs and performing at some of the biggest music festivals of the time.
Lured by the bright lights of Sin City, Shaun O’Neale relocated to Las Vegas in 2008 and quickly became a staple in the Vegas pool and nightclub scene, holding residencies at major venues like Liquid Pool, Bare Pool, Haze Nightclub, Light Nightclub, and Daylight Pool, just to name a few. O’Neale was also in high demand for major corporate events such as Michael Jordan’s Celebrity Golf Tournament, Justin Timberlake’s Shriners Open, and annual events for Playboy Magazine. In 2010, O’Neale became the first DJ ever to perform on Las Vegas Blvd. for a New Year’s Eve celebration in front of over 100,000 people, with the beautiful Caesars Palace as his backdrop.
One thing has remained constant for Shaun O’Neale through the crazy years in the DJ booth — and that is his absolute obsession with all things food! Spending years developing and fine-tuning his culinary skills, O’Neale came out of the home kitchen and into the spotlight in 2016 on season 7 of the hit FOX TV show MasterChef. With his elevated plating and big bold flavors, O’Neale quickly became a front runner and soon began to dominate the competition. He had eight individual wins, starting with the coveted white apron and ending with the MasterChef trophy. Shaun was victorious in three Mystery Box Challenges, as well as three elimination challenges, setting a record for individual wins with his incredible flavors and unique eye for creating stunning plates. Having the honor to cook for and learn from true masters in the culinary world such as Gordon Ramsay, Christina Tosi, Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud, Richard Blais, Aaron Sanchez, Edward Lee, and Kevin Sbraga has only intensified Shaun’s passion in the kitchen as he now moves on to the next phase as a chef, DJ, and author of My Modern American Table.
Come meet Shaun O’Neale as he entertains at the Trade Expo on Sunday at noon. Following his cooking demo, he’ll do a meet and greet and cookbook signing.

But wait … there’s more!
• There’s a new twist this year from Ocean 98, the creators of such previous Expo competitions as MIXED!, Crush the Clock, Pie in the Face, and Restaurant Feud. The debut of MINGO will hit the Culinary Showcase Stage on Monday at 1:00 p.m. This entertaining and engaging game will be based on the ever popular bingo. Restaurant and hotel themed music will highlight the event, as participants compete for gift cards and overnight stays.
• Latte art, created by a local barista, can be viewed in Eastern Shore Coffee & Water’s booth 228-229 on the lower level in Exhibit Hall A/B. Eastern Shore’s barista will be showcasing his talents on Sunday and Monday.

And, While You’re in OC …
The public is invited to the OC Center for the Arts First Friday Reception from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 2. At this free reception, attendees can meet the artists, enjoy hors d’oeuvres, and browse the hand-made pottery, jewelry, and two fl oors of artwork. More information is available at The Art League of Ocean City is a non-profi t organization dedicated to bringing the visual arts to the community through education, exhibits, scholarship, programs, and community art projects.
The Ocean City Lifesaving Museum is located at the south end of the boardwalk and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Travel back to Ocean City’s past to join the heroic Surfmen of the US Life-Saving Service on a rescue mission. Sands from around the world are on display, and the Aquarium Room features species from our waters. The Boardwalk of Yesterday highlights boardwalk scenes and is a true gem, complete with good ‘ol Laughin’ Sal!

Expo Facts
The Expo is not open to the public, therefore, to walk the show floor, you must be a buyer or guest in the industry, and you must be 21.
Hotel, motel, restaurant, catering, concessions, bed & breakfast, condo/property management, campground, coffee house, ice cream store, nightclub, liquor store, convenience store, cafeteria, nursing home, schools/colleges, and hospitals are all welcome.
Expo management reserves the right to determine if your registration fits these parameters. If you sell to these types of businesses, you would be considered an exhibitor and must purchase a booth to attend the Expo.
Expo hours: Sunday, March 4 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday, March 5 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
After February 28, on-site registration is $15 per person with proof of being in the industry.
A business card, license, or letter from an employer on letterhead will serve as proof; paystubs are not accepted.
For complete Expo information, check out or call 410-289-6733.


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