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The Voice of the Wildkats

The Student News Site of Willis High School

The Voice of the Wildkats

The Student News Site of Willis High School

The Voice of the Wildkats

TikTok food critic exposes Atlanta’s challenged restaurant scene

Popular food critic and tiktoker Keith Lee ran into numerous problems while reviewing some of Atlanta’s popular spots, and the internet has taken notice.
A+city+full+of+things+to+try.+Map+art+in+relation+to+Atlantas+popularity
photo or infographic by Kaitlin Burns
A city full of things to try. Map art in relation to Atlanta’s popularity

A popular user on TikTok known as Keith Lee has gained popularity by reviewing restaurants in different areas across the U.S. both by himself and with his family. With a very calm attitude and few bad words to say about the places he visits, he has become well known for being honest and kind even to businesses he doesn’t prefer. This reputation led many to have eyes on some recent reviews where Lee was not even served, in which he very politely mentioned his dislike of the service or lack thereof whilst requesting no ill will be pointed toward the businesses. 

This all started on his recent visit to some of Atlanta’s popular brunch spots, including Atlanta’s Breakfast Club, The Real Milk and Honey and Old Lady Gang. Starting with Atlanta’s Breakfast Club, Lee noticed some rather unusual and strict rules the establishment had. Some examples included no water being served until all party members were sat, prohibiting add-ons and charging $1 for butter per request. While he did say the food tasted great, these very specific rules made the experience a bit less enjoyable.

Another spot known as The Real Milk and Honey would not even serve his family until realizing he was with them. They first tried to DoorDash the food, finding it said they were closed at 4 even though the restaurant itself said they closed at 5. Following this, Lee’s family went in to see if they could order out directly or get a table, to which they were told once again they were closed for the day whilst they let others come in and take a seat at the same time. Lee decided to go in and see what was going on, to which they immediately tried to get him a table. He denied the special treatment, saying he was there to see what everyone else experienced and that he was just another normal customer.

Following his post about the incident many others who saw it had something to say about the business and some of its rather strange rules. Some of the major ones people complain about include “no table hibernation” in which they only allow a maximum of 90 minutes in the restaurant no exceptions, even if service is slow that day. A different policy people consistently point out as being illogical is the rule of “no parties bigger than four on days that end in Y”, which is, in fact, every day of the week. Along with this rule, they also say any party bigger than five will have an automatic 18% gratuity added to their check, which with the previous rule is impossible. 

After the incident, The Real Milk and Honey tried to joke about Lee’s review, making a TikTok skit saying “Who even is Keith Lee? Is he important?” to which they later took down after backlash. They then made an apology to him and his family, saying they should have been more respectful about the treatment provided during their visit to the establishment. 

The last of the restaurants Lee visited is named Old Lady Gang. Owned by singer Kandi Burruss, it is mostly known for its southern-style cooking. Hearing some rather good reviews about the restaurant Lee decided to add it to his list of places to visit, but once again found his family being treated differently until his entrance. The business does not do take-out on weekends as it is their busiest time of the week, so he once again sent his family in to get a table.

His wife and family were told the wait would be around an hour and a half, and that they do not take down phone numbers to call people when the wait is up. When Lee was told of this, he decided to go in and sit with his family, even taking pictures with some fans whilst in there. Before he had gone back up to the counter, he was informed the wait time was now only five minutes. When asked as to why the wait time jumped from an hour and a half to five minutes, the only response provided was that it was first come first serve despite his family having been in without him moments prior. 

He ultimately decided to not eat there and told the employee to have a great day. Following this, the owner gave an apology for the differential treatment but ultimately defended her employees’ decisions as “it’s not wrong to try and get a good review from an influential figure”. While some say Lee is in the wrong to complain about being treated well, others find it understandable to dislike when his family is treated worse as a result.

The news about Lee’s experience at the Atlanta hotspots had some other influential figures talking about how the restaurant scene there needed to be spoken about. One example includes the artist Cardi B, who said it’s practically impossible to get an order in at Atlanta restaurants, saying she had to use her name and remove her anonymity just to get a meal. Another response came from Author Roxane Gay, saying she had had an experience similar at one of the restaurants, including in her statement she found Lee’s review “delightful to watch.”

Another set came from food reviewers and critics themself, including Atlanta-based Zackory Kirk. He said Lee’s review brought light to the disappointment and treatment Atlanta residents experience every day. He also stated most residents who know better just completely avoid the restaurants due to the less-than-lovely treatment often included. 

Kirk commented saying the restaurants need to take this call out as a time and reason to improve their service, and that their behavior shouldn’t only be changed because Lee is in town. He said their audience needs to stop being exclusively visitors with large followings and look toward the residents there every day who would gladly pay for a good meal. A problem Kirk said he only sees growing every day in Atlanta is these businesses spending lots of money on social media marketing and targeting influencers, giving them the golden treatment whilst everyone else is given barely a glance. 

Kirk did recommend Lee return to Atlanta one day and review some hidden gems that genuinely need the spotlight from the internet. Lee also posted another video requesting no one send any negative reviews to the establishments he visited, as restaurants with similar names have reported getting death threats over the incident. He also showed some of the past restaurants he reviewed, with lines out the door for some, even having owners of helped businesses post thanks to Lee.

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Kaitlin is a junior and new member of their current school newspaper but has participated in a past school’s newspaper for 2 years. They are the Junior Class Officer for KJFH(Kats Joined for Hope) and a member of HOSA. They have an interest in becoming a Pediatric Psychiatrist and hope to be the first in their family to graduate college. Their favorite book this year has been ‘The Conspiracy Against the Human Race’ by Thomas Ligotti. You can contact them at [email protected] .
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