Sarasota restaurants make the grade in Zagat surveys

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- We know the Suncoast is home to some great restaurants, and now a national survey confirms it.

In an age when critiques are valuable and necessary, the success or failure of a restaurant could rest on something as simple as an industry rating. Enter the Zagat rating; a company owned by Google compiling information on restaurants in more than 70 cities around the country.

One of those cities is Sarasota, and the top five restaurants according to Zagat are: Mozaic Restaurant, Selva Grill, Michael's on East, Bijou Café, and Roy's Hawaiian Fusion in Sarasota.

JP Knaggs, owner of Bijou Café, has been part of Zagat surveys since it began in 1979. He says there is a reason he thinks his restaurant is top five. "We make people feel very much at home, and we give that personal touch."

Steven Warren, managing partner at Roy's Hawaiian Fusion in Sarasota also made the list and is familiar with the criteria based on opinions by everyday patrons. "Service, price level, food standards, and it's a voting system where people in the Zagat group will come in and review the restaurant. And then based on an average that they have."

And that average ranges from zero to 30. Scores from 26 to 30 equals an ‘extraordinary’ to ‘perfection’, down to zero through 10, which is a ‘poor’ to ‘fair’.

One common theme with most of the top restaurants we spoke to was the collaboration between management and staff.

"We feel that it is a team effort, and we are proud to be part of the team that wins the gold, so to speak." Michael Klauber, co-proprietor of Micheal's on East, is not only proud of his restaurant for making the top five, but the quality of restaurants as a whole in this county. "There are more highly rated Zagat restaurants in a 20-mile radius of Sarasota than anywhere else in the state."