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Zagat’s Iconic Red Guidebooks Will Be Printed Again This Fall for NYC

After a two-year hiatus, the decades-old restaurant ratings books will return to print

Google To Buy Zagat Guides Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Zagat guidebooks — once regarded as the go-to source for restaurant recommendations long before the era of online Yelp reviews — will be revived in print this year.

The company’s decades-old restaurant recommendation guide will return again in physical form later this fall, the Times reports, a decision that follows the company’s 2018 acquisition by the Infatuation. Like previous guides, the print version of the 2020 survey will be based on crowdsourced reviews of New York City restaurants. Diners can once again participate in the online voting through May 5.

The Zagat guidebook is an annual survey of restaurant reviews published since the 1980s. It long rated restaurants on a 30-point scale factoring in food, service, atmosphere, and price, though moved away from that system in recent years. However, the current online survey, rating those factors from zero to three, suggests that scale will also return.

Before Yelp, it was restaurant review royalty; in the years since, though, Zagat has struggled to remain relevant against the flurry of restaurant reviews and guides available online. Its last print edition was published in fall 2016, and for the past two years, subsequent guides have only lived online.

Last year, in an unlikely media acquisition, restaurant review site the Infatuation — best known for its food-centric Instagram hashtag #eeeeeats — purchased Zagat from Google for an undisclosed amount, promising to keep it a distinct brand focused on crowd-sourced restaurant reviews and further hinting at international expansion. Infatuation co-founder Chris Stang tells the Times that reviving Zagat in print was always a main priority for the brand following the purchase.

Zagat was purchased by Google in 2011 from its original founders, lawyers Tim and Nina Zagat, for $151 million. The search giant had ambitious plans for the brand — but instead ended up mining the site for content. By 2015, Google had successfully folded Zagat’s restaurant ratings and recommendations data into its search and maps programs, and partnered with OpenTable to offer reservations.

Those moves essentially stripped away Zagat’s branding. Now, it seems the Infatuation wants to salvage Zagat’s reputation in the restaurant review space — starting with bringing back those burgundy guidebooks.