CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — Maine may be the worst place to run a business, according to Forbes, but don’t tell that to Scott Allmendinger.
The Cape Elizabeth publishing executive is working on his most ambitious startup yet.
In January 2014 he plans to launch Food + Service, a national magazine for the food service industry, which includes operators of school and hospital cafeterias to upscale restaurants.
“Food service is a $900 billion industry,” said Allmendinger, adding that 47 cents of every food dollar is spent outside the home.
Allmendinger, who worked for Restaurant Business and FoodService Director magazines on and off for 25 years, examined trade publications in the food service industry and detected a gap. While the food service industry has long been segmented, with restaurants and institutional food service having their own niches, it is now beginning to broaden and overlap, Allmendinger said.
“There was nobody where restaurant and institutions would be. So we said, ‘Let’s create something in that space,’” said Allmendinger, who calls the concept “one magazine for the entire food service industry across the board.”
The Maine-based glossy magazine will come out six times a year starting with a food fetish issue in early 2014. A website will launch soon and mobile products down the road.
“We strongly believe that information is an ecosystem. No single channel can exist on its own,” said Allmendinger.
His new company, Ideal Media Group is “a group of entrepreneurs with experience in the food service B-to-B publishing world.”
Allmendinger intends to keep the workforce local. He has already hired Kathy Hayden of Falmouth as the magazine’s first editor-and-chief, and is working with Portland Web and design firms 360 Uncoated and Integra Strategic. Media executives Brian Reshefsky from Chicago and Andrew Schofield of London are financial partners who will assume operational roles, Allmendinger said.
Though he would not disclose how much money he’s sinking into the operation, Allmendinger is bullish on a trade magazine’s chances in 2014, especially in the Pine Tree State.
“Maine takes a lot of lumps for talent going out of state. I’m here to tell the business community there is a local, media talent pool of designers, editors and digital media that are all capable of putting out world-class products,” he said. “I’m putting my investment dollars to that belief.”
Themed issues such as “the art of making things craveable” will have articles on 25 things you need in your pantry to make food addictive, said Allmendinger. Business trends, such as “the social-media driven menu,” will also be examined.
Targeting both commercial and institutional food economies is a new approach for the industry, said the magazine’s new editor-in-chief.
“We are at a time when the types of restaurants where we get food are all becoming less segmented,” said Hayden, who leaves her job as a food service analyst at Chicago marketing research firm Mintel at the end of the week for the new post. “It’s important to look at the industry at all angles.”
In recent years, food sectors — from full-service to casual to quick-service dining — have melded, said Hayden. Trickle-down trends “hit the market in equal force right now,” she said.
For example, specialty foods such as quinoa are no longer relegated to fine dining circles, she said.
“If it’s out there, it’s influencing salad bars and restaurants and campus dining,” Hayden said.
The magazine will look at service trends as a whole. From food preparation, to service styles to new concepts in grab-and-go food. Food + Service aims for 90,000 subscribers in its first year.
“Everybody is in the business to get people to order things off their menu, whether it’s a cafeteria or fine dining or fast food,” said Allmendinger. “Everyone has a menu that they want to sell, and they want happy customers.”
Allmendinger thinks his new magazine will help them achieve those goals.