End of Zagat.com’s Free Lunch

Attention devoted followers of online dining guide Zagat.com: Your free lunch is over.

As of today, the online version of the popular “Zagat Survey” dining guide is going the route of other content providers and charging a subscription fee for its product.

The move is part of its plan to add new features to its Web site.

In an e-mail reminder to registered users of the site restaurant reviews, the guide’s founders, Tim and Nina Zagat, announced the change along with a pitch to pay up.

“You will still be able to visit zagat.com to locate a restaurant or to vote, but from now on only members will have access to our site’s other features,” the notice said.

Those features include ratings and reviews, information about new restaurants, advanced search functions about restaurants, a monthly e-mail newsletter Zagat Wire, indexes and a 25 percent discount on the published version of the dining guide.

Tim Zagat, CEO, Zagat Survey, said to keep an eye on content improvements that are coming to the site after the subscription launch. In addition, users will have access to Online Reservations at over 2,100 restaurants nationwide.

A subscription costs $14.95, or $2.50 per month, although the site is pitching new subscribers with a $9.95 special rate. It will include coverage of 70 cities by the end of the year and includes an online personal dining diary.

The site is leaving a few scraps of information for those determined not to pay, such as searching for restaurants by cuisine and neighborhoods across 45 cities the guide currently covers.

A company spokesperson had no comment on many subscribers it hopes to reap from the move.

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