Tim and Nina Zagat, founders of the famous Zagat Survey, talk about the past, present, and future of the restaurant business with restaurateurs Drew Nieporent, Richard Melman, Denise Fugo, and Ralph Brennan.
They discuss everything from the growing interest in healthy and organic foods, to the effect "celebrity chefs" are having on the restaurant business.
Ralph Brennan is president of The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group which operates twelve New Orleans-style restaurants, nine of which are located in New Orleans, including the Red Fish Grill and BACCO in the French Quarter, Ralph's on the Park, Mr. B's Bistro, and Commander's Palace.
Under his direction, Mr. B's and BACCO were recognized consistently with 4 Star ratings from Menu magazine, and Mr. B's was among five nationwide nominees for the James Beard MasterCard Outstanding Service Award.
Denise Fugo is co-owner of Sammy's, a banquet management and catering company with three restaurants in Cleveland, Ohio.
What began as a single restaurant in 1980 has grown into the city's premiere event-based enterprise for conferences, banquets, and weddings. Fugo, a longtime Chautauquan, is the former chair (and only the second woman chair since 1917) of the National Restaurant Association.
Richard Melman is founder and chairman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, a Chicago-based corporation that owns over 70 restaurants nationwide.
The restaurant business has been Melman's life work. He opened his first restaurant, R.J. Grunts, in 1971. The hip burger joint soon became one of the hottest restaurants in Chicago. Today, Lettuce Entertain You employs more than 5,000 people, and Melman has 37 working partners, most of whom have come up through the organization.
Drew Nieporent, one of America's most respected and celebrated restaurateurs, is the founder and inspiration behind the Myriad Restaurant Group in New York City, which operates Tribeca Grill, Rubicon, Nobu, Nobu 57, Centrico, Pulse, Proof on Main, and Crush Wine & Spirits.
His restaurants have received countless accolades. Montrachet (1985) earned three stars from The New York Times and kept that rating for 21 years. Tribeca Grill (1990), with partner Robert De Niro, continues to be one of New York's landmark restaurants. In 1994, Nieporent launched Nobu in New York, and Rubicon in San Francisco with Francis Ford Coppola.
Tim Zagat is the co-founder, co-chair and chief executive officer of Zagat Survey, the world's leading provider of consumer survey-based dining, travel and leisure information.
Zagat Survey was launched in 1979 as a hobby by Tim and his wife Nina, who started to rate restaurants through surveys. The Survey became so popular that it rapidly developed into a full-time publishing enterprise.
Following their initial success in New York City, the Zagats expanded their concept in the mid-1980's to cover dining scenes in other markets, later adding hotels, nightlife, movies, golf, shopping and a range of other entertainment resources.
In 2000, the Zagats were recognized as Entrepreneurs of the Year by both Ernst & Young and Harvard Business School, and were inducted to New York University's Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame in 2001. They are also inductees of the Hospitality Hall of Honor and members of the James Beard Who's Who in Food & Beverage.
Tim has served in various prominent, civic, cultural and charitable capacities over the years â€“ most recently for three years as the chairman of NYC & Company, the official marketing, promotion and tourism arm of New York City. He is currently a board member and vice president of Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP).
Tim earned an L.L.B. from Yale Law School in 1966 and a B.A. from Harvard College in 1961.
Nina Zagat is the co-founder and co-chair of Zagat Survey, the world's leading provider of consumer survey-based dining, travel and leisure information.
Along with her husband Tim, Mrs. Zagat oversees the global expansion of the company into new US and international markets, leisure categories and additional platforms for content, including its web and wireless ventures.
Mrs. Zagat was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Harvard Business School (2000); one of the Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World by the Star Group (2001); and one of Crain's list of Top Tech 100, featuring New York City's most influential people in technology (2001).
In addition, both Tim and Nina Zagat were recognized as Entrepreneurs of the Year (2000) by Ernst & Young and were inducted into New York University's Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame (2001). Mrs. Zagat was also named one of Crainâ€™s New York 100 Most Influential Women (2007).
In addition to her role at Zagat Survey, Mrs. Zagat spent 24 years as an attorney at the distinguished Wall Street law firm, Shearman & Sterling. While there, she worked in the Individual Client Group where she specialized in providing legal services to high net worth individuals.
Mrs. Zagat also attended Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine; is a member of the corporation for the Culinary Institute of America; served on the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism; and is a member of the Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America.
Mrs. Zagat earned an L.L.B. from Yale Law School and a B.A. from Vassar College in 1963. She has been married to Tim Zagat since 1965. They have two sons, Ted and John.
Tim and Nina Zagat, founders of the famous Zagat Survey, discuss the new wave of celebrity chefs and the effect they are having on the restaurant business with prominent restaurateurs Drew Nieporent, Ralph Brennan, Richard Melman, and Denise Fugo.