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Word Count: 2,657
EVERYONES A CRITIC With the proliferation of dining guides theres no shortage of restaurant reviews out there But how reliable is the information customers are getting First a moment of realization and then panic spreads through the restaurant one of Manhattans toniest from the front of the house to the back and downstairs to the basement where the chef is yelling the ear off of some poor unwitting reservationist How did this happen he screams The Zagats are here and theyre not on the list My god theyre going to have to wait now like regular customers Fortunately for the quivering clerk the aforementioned scene doesnt really play out in a restaurant basement but on a stage during a performance of Fully Committed a hit comedy that has been running off-Broadway for nearly a year If the name Zagat means nothing to you then you probably dont get the joke If you own a restaurant in a major American city and the name still means nothing to you then well you really dont get it The Zagats Tim and Nina are well-known for the eponymous burgundy-colored dining guides they publish-compendiums of customer reviews of eateries from fine-dining shrines to local pizza joints-which can be found sticking out of the purses and pockets of restaurant patrons across the country The Zagat Survey is just part of an entire movement of restaurant guides-in print and increasingly on the internet-that has been feeding off the great dining revolution of the late 20th century and in many ways fueling it But even as these guides signal the ongoing boom in dining out their proliferation is raising some serious questions for restaurant operators and could even be hurting their business in ways they cant see Because the evaluations presented in todays dining guides overwhelmingly are not the opinions of trained critics journalists or chefs but the unknown hungry masses And while the Zagat
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