Zagat Plans Nashville/Memphis Guide and Wants Your Input

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Zagat has a longtime reputation as one of the premier guidebooks for restaurants and bars in major cities around the world, and prides itself as being "the world's original provider of user-generated content." Although the guides may seem a little bit old-school (some of them are actually PRINTED ON PAPER), they are hip enough that Google targeted Zagat.com for acquisition last year, purchasing them for over $100 million. Most of that value was placed on the reputation of the guides and the methods that Zagat uses to compile and curate user reviews into restaurant profiles.

Recently, Zagat decided that the dining scene in Nashville and Memphis has reached a point where it is definitely worthy of national coverage, so they have undertaken their first survey of these two cities. This guide will be an online guide only, but the reviews will also serve as the primary profile for any searches of the restaurants on the Google+ platform.

So how does the process work? Surveys are published with a list of notable local restaurants. While there are some national chains included if the location is very popular within a city, the roster is focused on local establishments that represent a cross section of the best and most exemplary cuisines in a city. Residents log into the survey and vote on a scale of 1-3 on food, decor and service and then offer their own subjective comments on the restaurant.

The results are converted into a 1-30 scale for each category and a local editor compiles representative comments verbatim that share the vox populi's opinion of each restaurant. (Fair disclosure: I'll be the person handling this part of the gig for Nashville, so bring your best stuff!) Eventually, each review is presented in the guide as a one-sentence review made up of a string of snippets from survey responses; often with multiple clauses strung together with many semicolons; kinda like this; since that has been the traditional Zagat format for years; even if it is a little mind-numbing to compile; but I'm happy to do it.

What's in it for you? Well, in addition to making sure that your voice has a chance to be heard and that your opinions can be included, you can also win rewards from Zagat. Reviewers who vote on 15 restaurants will receive their choice of any of Zagat's printed guides, while 40 reviews will earn you a Zagat-branded tote bag, apron or corkscrew. Selfishly, the more well-written reviews that are submitted, the more good material I will have to draw from when I edit the final product. It would be great if the reviews came from thoughtful, intelligent individuals who have a genuine interest in food and the Nashville dining community. Y'know, like y'all.

The survey is now open and closes on Nov. 4, so get cracking! If you want to be a part of the fun, register at the Zagat website and start voting.

p.s. I'll share another little bit of insider info. If you want to convince a New Yorker that you know what you're talking about when it comes to restaurants, make sure to pronounce "Zagat" like it rhymes with "the cat." I've been screwing that one up for years ...

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