Meet Keith Lee, the TikTok Food Reviewer Turning Struggling Eateries into Success Stories

Illustration of Keith Lee with food

TikToker Keith Lee (@keith_lee125) has quickly risen through the ranks of social media’s biggest food reviewers.

The Las Vegas dad takes a no-frills approach to TikTok, filming genuine food reviews from a Paw Patrol-themed kid’s chair.

He started creating content in 2020, filming family vlogs and looks into his behind-the-scenes life as a mixed martial artist.

But what has made the most impact for viewers is his food review of mom-and-pop restaurants.

Illustration of Keith Lee with food
Illustration by Johnathan Huang for Good Good Good

His TikTok following has rapidly topped 10 million, and whenever he reviews a new establishment, the masses follow. 

For instance, when he reviewed the once-struggling pizza shop in Vegas, Frankenson's, his video received over 42.5 million views, and lines of customers traveled down the block in the following days.

@keith_lee125 #stitch with @mackenziesol Franccesca Açaí bowls & Coffee shop taste test 💕 would you try it ? 💕 #foodcritic ♬ original sound - Keith Lee

In January, Lee highlighted the Southern Taste Seafood truck, and not only did customers come hungry, but they also donated funds to the food truck’s owner on Cash App, totaling nearly $30,000 in funds to help support his struggling business.

Lee reviewed Aroma Latin American Cocina on TikTok after being invited to check it out by owner Yasser Zermeno, and the restaurant experienced a similar influx in traffic.

“We went from not being able to pay the bills to now having to hire people to come and help us,” Zermeno told NBC News. “We call it the Keith effect.” 

While many businesses may not be able to easily handle the sudden demand from Lee’s videos, he echoes this to his followers; reminding them to be patient and respectful upon their visits.

@keith_lee125 Frankensons Pizzeria 4 day update @keith_lee125 💕 2-3 hour wait times ALL DAY , line down the street , him and his family are working 16 hour shifts EVERYDAY 💕 God is amazing, God bless you all 🙏🏽 #foodcritic ♬ original sound - Keith Lee

Most of all, he’s just grateful to tap into his foodie fun side and help hard-working people out in the process.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” Lee quoted the famous line from ‘Spider-Man’ to NBC News. “As somebody who’s in this position, I think it’s up to me to understand that and not shy away from it.”

A version of this article was originally published in The 2023 Food Edition of the Goodnewspaper.

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April 4, 2023 5:00 AM
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