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New owners bring 'Wisconsin Foodie' background, credibility to Edible Milwaukee magazine

Tuesday, May 2, 2017   (0 Comments)
Business Journal
Melanie Lawder



In the coming months, readers of Edible Milwaukee will likely notice some changes in the quarterly magazine, which covers the region's food culture and dining scene. More visual storytelling, a continued focus on in-depth articles, a new personality and more are all on the docket for the franchise publication, which was recently acquired by "Wisconsin Foodie" founder Arthur Ircink and Wendi Devan, the show's director of strategy and development.

Ircink and Devan plan to bring their extensive knowledge of the state's food culture into their newest venture, leveraging their wealth of expertise and resources to help boost Edible Milwaukee's visibility, brand and readership.

"This industry needs a hero," Ircink told the Milwaukee Business Journal. "This industry need a voice, because to make this food the way people make it — it's very labor intensive. It takes days; it takes seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Small businesses are really breaking backs right now to make the products they can and they're making it for us to enjoy. So we want to be their voice.”

Given its food emphasis and focus on local entrepreneurs, acquiring Edible Milwaukee — which launched in May 2013— was a natural step, Ircink and Devan said. Ircink actually briefly held the franchise license of Edible Milwaukee several years ago, but decided to step back from the publication due to his commitment to "Wisconsin Foodie."

But now that "Wisconsin Foodie" team is set to start work on their 10th season, Ircink said the time was right to jump back in. Last week, he and Devan purchased the publication from former owner Jennifer Ede, who will stay on to consult with the magazine through the fall 2017 issue.

Ircink, while working on various "Wisconsin Foodie" episodes, said he frequently comes across food stories that wouldn't necessarily lend well in a video format, but still need to be told. Edible Milwaukee could be the perfect place for those narratives.

Editorially, continuing to prioritize longer-term enterprise stories and rolling out a revamped social media strategy are on the horizon. Ircink and Devan also said they plan to bring a new "personality" to the magazine and a "different kind of swagger that separates itself" from other publications.

The new owners also hope to tap into the knowledge of the southeastern Wisconsin foodie scene by inviting its passionate players into the Edible Milwaukee fold to contribute content and ideas. There will still be a consistent writing staff at Edible Milwaukee, but more diverse voices will be influencing the publication's direction.

"We want to bring together all the great writers and visual artists, Instagrammers and foodies in the community — to have a voice in the magazine,” Ircink said. "Maybe they are not seasoned writers but they have ideas and we'll work with them to curate articles that are for everybody and by everybody.”

On the business side, Edible Milwaukee plans to bring back previously outsourced operations — printing, for instance — in-house, or at least back to the Milwaukee area. Devan said they plan to increase the availability of Edible Milwaukee at various businesses around town. Right now, readers can't get the magazine delivered to their door, so adding a subscription option is a possibility they are considering, they said.

"If you're at the hair dresser and getting your hair done and you have a People Magazine, and a Milwaukee Magazine, there should be an Edible Milwaukee there too," Devan said.

Additionally, incorporating more events into Edible Milwaukee's business model is also an avenue that Ircink and Devan are exploring. With the right tweaks, Ircink thinks they could become a "dominant player in telling local food stories in Wisconsin."

"The sky is really the limit for us right now," Devan said. "We like to think big, but were also very strategic with how we position ourselves.”

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