For restaurant owners these days, a positive or negative review from an influencer can make or break their business. Some Atlanta restaurateurs are learning just how much of an impact social media can have thanks to TikTok food critic Keith Lee.
Although he’s traveled to cities across the country before, his trip to Atlanta has sparked a surprising number of issues with local eateries, many of which have lengthy lists of rules for their patrons or expensive hidden fees that have been highlighted in his videos.
Who Is Keith Lee?
Lee has built his platform on TikTok reviewing (primarily Black-owned) restaurants around the country. He went to Atlanta for the first time with his family and had a grand food tour planned for his time there. But after encountering some restaurants’ ridiculous rules and service, he couldn’t stay quiet any longer.
Why are Keith Lee’s Atlanta restaurant reviews going viral?
When he stopped by Atlanta Breakfast Club, Lee said his family ran into problems ordering food and weren’t even able to order water until their entire party was seated. He was also informed that orders couldn’t be modified or added onto once they’re initially placed. “The customer service was interesting. While the people were nice, the rules they had set were very unique to me,” he said, calling the add-on rule “Unique to me, but it is what it is.”
The next stop was The Seafood Menu owned by Atlanta-bred rapper Lil Baby, which opened earlier this year. Because he’s allergic to shellfish and the restaurant doesn’t cook their foods in different oils, Lee had to pass on the marine menu choices.
Lee saved a lot of his criticism for The Real Milk & Honey. When he and his family first arrived, they were turned away because the restaurant was closed for deep cleaning. What shocked him even more were the spot’s many requirements, some of which contradicted themselves entirely.
“So far being in Atlanta I found some places do have unique rules. And this is one of them,” he said, noting that the staff was nice and discouraging his followers from harassing the restaurant and its workers. “If you don’t like their rules, their rules [are] not for you. And for me and my family the rules just wasn’t for us.”
The Real Milk & Honey taste test 💕 would you try it ? 💕 #foodcritic
The rules at one of the restaurants Keith Lee dragged. Actually this the one he couldn’t even get food at. Imagine going out to eat, and the waitress puts this shit in front of you as a disclaimer. Btw, read rules 3 and 9 and how contradictory they are. DRAG THEM KEITH! 😂 pic.twitter.com/9nWlVfOY9X
— Thugnificent 🇬🇭 (@AfricanPrize) October 28, 2023
What happened between Keith Lee and Kandi Burruss?
One of Lee’s last stops in Atlanta was Old Lady Gang, a Southern eatery created by Grammy-winning songwriter and The Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kandi Burruss and her husband Todd Tucker. The shop, named in honor of Burruss’ mother and aunts, offered very different service to Lee than it did to his family.
Lee sent his relatives inside the restaurant to try to place a take-out order but were told they don’t do to-go orders on weekends. When they tried to get a table, they were told it would be at least an hour wait, but when Lee himself attempted to get a table, they informed him he’d be seated in five minutes. As someone who doesn’t want preferential treatment or free meals, Lee decided to take his money elsewhere.
The review prompted a response from Burruss herself. She welcomed the review
“I do appreciate Keith Lee for stopping by our restaurant and trying to show us love,” she said. She went on to explain that the no weekend to-go policy is correct because the kitchen would get overwhelmed in combination with all the in-person traffic the restaurant gets.
Old Lady Gang taste test 💕 would you try it 💕 #foodcritic
Thanks for stopping by #OldLadyGang @Keith Lee! Much love to you & your family. ❤️ & Thanks to all of our supporters! 😘❤️
Did Keith Lee have any positive experiences in Atlanta?
While his less-enthusiastic reviews got the most shares, Lee also shone a spotlight on some smaller and less well-known eateries in the city. This included a family-owned restaurant called The Dining Experience, which he gave a glowing review.
The Dining Experience taste test 💕 would you try it ? 💕 #foodcritic
What did Cardi B have to say?
Rapper Cardi B—an Atlanta resident—also chimed in, saying she agreed with Lee’s assessment of the city’s restaurant scene:
Cardi B reacts to Keith Lee’s Atlanta restaurant reviews. pic.twitter.com/JjpZIgOtYY
— Episodes (@episodesent) October 30, 2023
If you’re a restaurant owner and find out Lee is in your city, it’s probably best to ensure every part of the dining experience at your establishment is up to snuff.
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