Why is a bank buying Zagat parent The Infatuation?

JPMorgan Chase said it is acquiring The Infatuation, a popular restaurant recommendation website, which includes the Zagat brand, a restaurant review platform. The move reflects the bank’s expansion into the dining business as it caters to its big-spending credit card customers.

The Infatuation will retain its independent point of view and operate as its own brand under JPMorgan, according to a press release. It will continue to be led by its CEO and co-founder Chris Stang. The details of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2009, The Infatuation also offers a membership program with restaurant perks and discounts and a bi-coastal food festival called EEEEATSCON. In 2018, the company agreed to buy Zagat from Google for an undisclosed amount.

Credit cards adapting to changing consumers’ needs

JPMorgan is not the first credit card company to wade into the world of dining. In 2019, American Express acquired Resy, a restaurant booking app, where card holders get early access to restaurant reservations.

For several years now, banks have been catering to their customers’ changing habits. Since launching the Chase Sapphire credit card in 2016, JPMorgan has capitalized on millennials’ craving for flexible travel and dining rewards—so much so that the company temporarily ran out of the metal cards. In October, the company rolled out Chase Dining where Chase Freedom, Sapphire and Ink card members can browse and book reservations as well as order takeout through Chase, as well as access behind-the-scenes tours and conversations with chefs, mixologists, and farmers.

The Infatuation also gives JPMorgan an opportunity to expand its content offerings, an increasingly popular strategy for  financial companies. Robinhood, for example, offers a newsletter and a podcast.

The timing of the deal also coincides with the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, and the return of restaurant goers in search of new dining experiences.

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