After a six-year hiatus, a version of the Zagat restaurant guide will return to Los Angeles in June. The Infatuation acquired the Zagat brand from Google in 2018.
The guide will be assembled through an online survey of Los Angeles diners that will rate and review any open restaurant, food truck or stand in Los Angeles County. The survey is open to the public and is available now on the Zagat website through March 17.
“We wanted to bring it back to its diner survey roots,” the Infatuation co-founder and chief executive Chris Stang said. “It had sort of become editorially-driven during Google’s tenure and this was an opportunity to bring back the voice of a community of people who are knowledgeable about restaurants.”
The Infatuation Zagat released a New York guide late last year with a refreshed online database and physical guidebook that included 1,400 restaurants. While Stang said the New York guidebook sold well, he’s waiting to gauge the response to the online survey before deciding to publish another physical product for L.A.
For a time, Zagat ratings were ubiquitous, with restaurants displaying their ratings in Zagat’s signature burgundy and white in windows all over the country. The books featured no photos, just blurbs of text cobbled together from readers’ submissions. Its peak influence was the late ’90s and early 2000s. Google bought the guide company for a reported $151 million in 2011 as it was ramping up its local review offerings in 2011.
Stang said he’s trying to keep the spirit of those original Zagat guides alive with the new website, but will modernize it somewhat — the guide will, for instance, include photos of the restaurants.
As in the past, diners will be given an initial list of dozens of restaurants to rate on food, service and decor using the original Zagat 30-point scale. (Google, for a time, changed it to a five-point scale.) Respondents will also be given the option to submit restaurants that are not already listed in the survey. If it looks like a certain area or community is not represented, Stang said, the company will reach out via newsletters, social media and other outlets to solicit more opinions for inclusion.
The Infatuation website puts out its own best-of dining lists in major cities across the U.S., but Stang thought it was important to acquire the user-generated Zagat to give diners an additional resource when deciding where to eat.
“We really believe the food community and restaurant scene in L.A. is one of the greatest in the world, and whatever mechanisms exist to make more resources for people to eat here is a good thing,” Stang said.