Cutting-Edge Convention Centers for Meetings

Future-ready venues in San Francisco, Louisville, Miami Beach and beyond.

The vision of the Specialty Food Association is to "Shape the Future of Food." To pull this off, its artisan and purveyor members need contemporary appliances, trusted equipment and innovative ingredients. But neither a slick commercial range nor great Japanese knives are enough to make these member companies thrive. For more than 18,000 annual attendees, the place to learn how to turn a delicious idea into a sustainable business is the Winter Fancy Food Show, which has taken place at San Francisco's Moscone Center for more than 40 years.

Although the facility had always been serviceable, gathering there had become like cooking in an outdated kitchen: The food was delicious, but making it was a lot more difficult than it should have been. So when Moscone Center completed a $551 million expansion and renovation in December 2018, the group rejoiced.

"The Winter Fancy Food Show has seen tremendous growth that had us busting at the seams," says Bill Lynch, vice president of engagement and events at the association, whose 2019 Winter Fancy Food Show in January was the first event to unfurl inside the new-and-improved Moscone. "The new space allowed us to break all previous records for exhibits."

But the facility wasn't just bigger; thanks to new flexible meeting spaces, it was much better. "The new multi-use spaces in the building provided us with opportunities to create deeper engaging experiences around food tasting, trends, culture and education," notes Lynch, who was especially pleased by the single hall of about 520,000 square feet made from two former underground exhibit areas. "Having the contiguous space connecting the North and South buildings under Howard Street was a huge deal for us, and that new space became the hottest-selling exhibit space for next year's show. We walked away from this year's show with more demand for participation than we have had in the history of the Winter Fancy Food Show."

Bringing the convention center into the 21st century is paying off already for San Francisco. To read about how the future is now for Moscone and four other centers that are newly opened, renovated or expanded, each go to