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Zagat, Zagat, Zagat: New Buzzy Blog, Voting in LA

In February, launched its new Chowhound-esque message board. Voting for Los Angeles-area restaurants started in March. Today, we get an email about Zagat Buzz:

Zagat Buzz is where you'll find editors dishing on the latest restaurant openings, trends and more. Whether you want to know which newcomer has the whole town talking or are just looking to browse recent dining-related headlines, you'll find it in Zagat Buzz.
We think it's just a daily update of their ZagatWire, which updated monthly. It sounds awfully familiar, too. But hey, welcome to the party.

Now about that voting...did you know it's not kosher for the restaurants to ask for votes? Michael Mahle, corporate commincator for Zagat, told us: "While we don't encourage restaurants to encourage their customers to vote, we don't necessarily frown upon it either. However...and this is a serious issue at Zagat...we don't allow restaurants to encourage 'favorable' voting of their restaurant." Some restaurateurs tread a thin line. We heard one stuffed its to-go bags with a "vote for us" message recently. We'll let you guess who it is:

"Dear XXXX Guest: Thank you for your patronage at XXXX! We hope that you are familiar with our sister restaurant XXXX, just across the street. It’s that time of year again and Zagat voting has begun. We hope that we’ve done an excellent job and if so, we invite you to go this website link to vote for us. We appreciate your time and support!"
We got a newsletter from another that touts Zagat as one of the most valuable resources for restaurant information, and then throws in at the end, "While we wouldn't want to influence your vote one way or another, the fact that you're receiving this newsletter means that you must like [OUR RESTAURANT] at least a little bit (hint hint)." There's nothing wrong with voting for your favorite resto, but begging is

And anyway, who cares? Don't get us wrong. We loves the Zagat: We wouldn't be caught dead without our guide in the car, and we regularly use it as an online reference. But it's hard to take the opinions too seriously. In LA, the Cheesecake Factory is often voted most popular restaurant, above A.O.C., Campanile and other high-profile spots. Then again, look at those lines. A lot of people do like gigantic portions of mediocre food.
· EaterWire: Zagat vs. Chowhound vs. Yelp vs. The World [Eater LA]
· Zagat -- voting underway for NYC, LA and SF guides! [Chowhound]