When TikTok food critic Keith Lee, known for his candid reviews with over 14.5 million followers, landed in Atlanta, no one anticipated the storm that would follow. Lee, often hailed for uplifting small businesses and encouraging followers to form their opinions, faced a series of unexpected hurdles that brought both praise and criticism to Atlanta’s bustling restaurant scene.
The man who usually ‘Keith Lee-d’ restaurants—bringing a surge in popularity—experienced a starkly different reception in the city. His attempt to grab a bite at The Real Milk and Honey in College Park turned into an ordeal. Despite wide-open doors, Lee claimed the staff cited an early closure for cleaning, prompting him to decline service even after stepping inside.
The Impact of Keith Lee—The Food TikTok Sensation
A similar narrative unfolded at Old Lady Gang, owned by Grammy-winning artist Kandi Burruss. Lee alleged that after being informed of a substantial wait for takeout, he personally entered the establishment and miraculously secured immediate seating.
Responses varied among the establishments. The Real Milk and Honey initially posted a video questioning, “Who is this Keith Lee?” before deleting it. Later, the restaurant issued an apology on Instagram, stressing the value of feedback for improvement.
Kandi Burruss expressed regret over the service delay due to high weekend demand and the challenge of juggling dine-in and takeaway orders.
Social media erupted, amplifying complaints about some Atlanta restaurants prioritizing their online image over food quality and service. Even rapper Cardi B joined the discourse, sharing her struggles with restaurant service in the city.
Atlanta’s culinary renaissance, marked by celebrity-owned spots and Michelin stars, faced scrutiny for inconsistencies in service, operating hours, and customer policies.
Keith Lee responded, acknowledging diverse opinions and emphasizing his commitment to unbiased critique. Concerned for safety, he urged respectful discourse.
Mike Jordan from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution saw the incident as a catalyst for necessary dialogue, offering an outsider’s perspective.
Restaurateur Miguel Hernandez foresaw an opportunity for improvement, believing Lee’s experiences could motivate elevated standards.
In the aftermath, an unintended consequence emerged. Milk and Honey, unrelated to The Real Milk and Honey, reported threats and bad reviews from confused patrons.
Keith Lee’s Atlanta tour triggered discussions about the intricate relationship between influencers, restaurants, and evolving diner expectations. Amid challenges, the city aspires to positive change, hoping for growth in its vibrant culinary landscape.