Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Zagat Takes the Pulse of New York Nightlife

By Gamal Hennessy

The first name in restaurant reviews moves into its 40th year with its annual nightlife guide today. In addition to a broad based look at venues in all five boroughs, the book looks at the trends emerging in both patron behavior and new venues. While some of the data reflects the impact of the recession, the overall picture shows that New York remains a prime location for nightlife.

Zagat started in 1979 as a collection of reviews for New York restaurants. Over the next four decades the company has expanded to dozens of cities and offers books and websites on shopping, dining and nightlife. The 2009/10 Zagat Nightlife Book used a survey of 6,000 nightlife patrons to determine that while people have changed their behavior because of the economy, nightlife as an industry has proven resilient to the downturn.

According to Zagat,
New York City currently has more than 1,300 nightlife venues, including 100 new venues added in the past year. This finding is supported by our own Club Report that has continued to track new venues opening almost every week in spite of the economy. While there is no mention of how many venues were lost in 2008, the number of new venues is remarkable considering the economy and the stiff competition for drinking dollars. When you look at the contraction of other local industries in the past year, the Zagat data shows the strength of nightlife as an economic force in the city.

When it comes to the behavior of nightlife patrons, there is a definite shift toward less extravagant evenings. People are
opting to go to less expensive venues, ordering fewer drinks when they go to their normal venues, or going out about half as much as they used to in an effort to save money. There was no information on the impact on bottle service, but anecdotal conversations I’ve had with promoters and other operators back this up this finding. In 2007-8 the average spent per person on liquor used to be $50-75 per night, now that number is down to $25-40.

The Nightlife Book also tracked other trends. It found that rising areas of popularity for nightlife include LES, Harlem, Park Slope and Williamsburg. It found that more new venues are underground speakeasies as opposed to the rooftop bars that have been in vogue for the past two years. It also found that the speakeasy trend is supporting a parallel rise in mixology in both new and established venues.

The 2009/10 Nightlife Book is available today and has updates that can be delivered to your handheld.

Have fun.


Lisa said...

Just read the news release for this on the Zagat website. I'm still in shock that the opening of night clubs hasn't taken a hit yet.

New York Nights said...

I think there are quite a few venues that have closed because of the economy. Zagat didn't really track that but I've seen it in my research...

I also think the reason that there is a net increase is because some people who got laid off decided to get into nightlife because its something they always wanted to do. Other people are investing in clubs because it seems like a better bet than the stock market and club owners who are still doing well are scooping up failing business for a good price and trying to turn them around...

Thanks for the comment.

Have fun.

Dave said...

I think nightlife def slow down during this time but people still go out no matter what. We just finish a great mobile app so bars, clubs and promoters can post their deals, events and promotions with videos etc...