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Tim and Nina Zagat

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Title: Tim and Nina Zagat  
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Tim and Nina Zagat

Nina Zagat, along with her husband Tim Zagat (Eugene Henry Zagat, Jr.) (b. 1940, New York City), (pronounced /zəˈɡæt/, rhymes with "the cat") are the Jewish-American co-founders and publishers of Zagat Restaurant Surveys, since 1982. They met at Yale Law School and were both practicing attorneys when they founded Zagat Surveys.[1][2]

Early life

The Zagats got married during law school, graduated in 1966, and moved to New York where they became corporate lawyers.[3] She was an associate with the Wall Street white shoe firm Shearman & Sterling[4] and was most notable for her role in the administration of the Seward Johnson estate. Later they both got jobs in Paris, he at office of the Hughes Hubbard law firm and she at the Shearman & Sterling office. While there, they started compiling their own list of Parisian restaurants, of what they liked and didn’t like, and conceived the idea for a new type of restaurant ratings guide.

Hobby becomes a business

When they returned to New York, they solicited the opinions of friends about New York restaurants, and the resulting compilation eventually became Zagat.[2] The couple published their first guide in 1982. It was for New York City and it sold 7,500 copies in local bookstores.[3] Two years later, it was selling at 40,000 copies per year and they quit their jobs as corporate lawyers to devote full-time to the enterprise.[3]

Zagat Survey

One reviewer described the methodology: "The philosophy behind the Zagat Survey is that instead of one lengthy critical review of a restaurant, the eating public is better served by a rating based on hundreds of responses. By tabulating the responses to detailed surveys, the Zagat Survey rates restaurants on a 30-point scale in the categories of food, décor, service and cost. It also provides price estimates and a pithy, paragraph-sized description."[1]

The company expanded to include other cities and market segments such as hotels, stores and clubs; in early 2008, the couple tried to sell the company for $200 million, but then withdrew the sale when they could not find prospective buyers at that price.[2] One reviewer wrote: "The Zagat Survey was once the sine qua non of restaurant guidebooks. Aside from a review in the paper, the survey's 30-point scale for food, service, and décor—and its quirky comments submitted by readers—was pretty much all that mattered to restaurateurs. While the book's ratings are still highly influential—and while the company remains highly profitable—the guide is no longer the indispensable possession it once was and it's clear that its influence has waned in recent years."[3] The relative decline was attributed to the company's "online strategy" which made the guide only available to paying subscribers.[3] In September 2011, the company was acquired by Google for a reported $151 million.

Personal life

The couple have two sons, Ted and John,[1] and live on the Upper West Side.[5]

Stabbing incident

On November 15, 1990, Tim Zagat was watching Dances With Wolves at a Loews movie theater in New York City.[6] A man, seated in the same row, made loud comments before the movie began. During the film, the man stabbed Zagat until an anonymous moviegoer pulled the attacker off of Zagat.[6] The attacker fled out a side exit but police apprehended the suspect a few days later. Zagat received superficial wounds and was taken to Roosevelt Hospital.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Tim and Nina Zagat Biography". bio. 2002. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  2. ^ a b c Sheryl Julian (April 22, 2009). "Critic of All He Surveys". The Boston Globe. Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Tim Zagat (see section: Close Call)". cityfile new york. 2009-10-20. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  4. ^ October 28, 1991Business Week"Tim and Nina Zagat: Move Over, Michelin"
  5. ^ Vanita Salisbury (March 10, 2009). "Nina and Tim Zagat's Favorite New Yorkers Are Each Other". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  6. ^ a b "Publisher Is Stabbed In a Sudden Attack In a Movie Theater". New York Times. November 15, 1990. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 

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