UP NOW Wouldn't you like the Zagats telling you where they ate, what they thought, and their views of the restaurant business -- in their own, clearly pithy and witty voices, but not involving any quotation marks? I sure would, because I know how smart and trenchant they are, and what close observers of the restaurant business and economy.

I've been lucky enough to know firsthand, since I was first assigned to write a piece about them in the days when they still had a hand-scored, mimeographed restaurant survey only a select group got and filled in. One of that select group was my editor, and she sent me to talk to them for a short profile I called "The Man Who Would Be Michelin." Several decades and millions of sales afterward, Tim Zagat became that and more for the United States and many parts of the gastronomic world. And joined by his accomplished lawyer wife, Nina (they're both lawyers, as you can see in their impressive biographies), they expanded their reach, their data-collecting sophistication, and the range of subjects they cover.

I'll be counting on The Zagats to tell us what the next horizon holds -- and, when the spirit moves them, to tell us what they think about the restaurant business in these Interesting Times, as our current cover story would have it, and a very interesting trip they're taking very soon. And I couldn't be more pleased that we'll get to hear from them right here.

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