At one time, Zagat was synonymous with New York dining. But that was at a time when a dog-eared maroon book was the “go-to source” for “where to eat” and “what to do” — and an early example of the wisdom of the crowds. Zagat was purchased by Google in 2011 and continued to fade from relevance. Reviews publisher The Infatuation, which purchased Zagat from Google for an undisclosed sum in March 2018, is preparing Zagat’s next act.
First is a 40th-anniversary edition of the Zagat New York City guide, debuting next week and, by 2020, a new digital platform including an updated website and app. It’s been three years since a printed Zagat guide has been published, and the slim burgundy books saw the height of their popularity in the 1980s and 1990s.
Relaunching Zagat has been a careful exercise in balancing the brand’s storied reputation while leveraging the millennial-friendly following The Infatuation has built.
“Zagat was really the first example of user-generated content back in 1979 when [Tim and Nina Zagat] were giving friends paper surveys and having them fill out info about their favorite restaurants,” The Infatuation CEO Chris Stang said. “What does UGC look like when you take a 40-year-old iconic brand and 10 years of domain expertise we’ve built understanding this space, and what’s happened in user-generated content and build something new?”
Zagat’s reviews will also have a different voice. Whereas The Infatuation emphasizes contextual dining reviews, such as “Where to Go When You Don’t Want to Make a Big Deal About Your Anniversary,” and it features the voices of a single reviewer, Zagat’s reviews are still being crowdsourced and repackaged into snappy snippets.