Under the Critic’s Lens: How Your Restaurant Can Survive A Visit From Keith Lee and Others

Written By: Maggie Brown (Maggiethe_journalist)

By now, we have all heard of the infamous social media food critic Keith Lee, and the affect his reviews can have on the restaurants he visits.

Lee, a 26-year-old married father of two, and pro fighter gained notoriety in 2022 on social media for his food reviews of local Las Vegas restaurants.

Since then, Lee has amassed over 20 million views, thousands of comments, and a loyal following throughout his social media platforms; ultimately earning him a spot as a fan favorite for food reviews.

Aside from the restaurants he chooses, Lee also became a fan favorite and trusted food critic because he prides himself on being treated as a normal everyday customer, and not a celebrity.

Many fans appreciate that added element and even says it makes his reviews that much more believable.

Lee’s signature approach is to send a member of his family – usually his wife or mother-in-law – into the restaurant to order and retrieve the food items to avoid special treatment and to give an honest opinion on how others are treated.

According to an article on the businessinsider.com, Lee said, “ It’s still so shocking to me … “It’s one thing to see a comment saying they trust what I say, but it’s different to see people standing in line for two hours in the cold just to try food I said I like.”

While every review doesn’t go in the restaurants favor, Lee has still managed to change many others lives for the better. He’s known to double their daily sales, have customer lines wrapping around corners, and sometimes triple their normal wait times for food.

Lee, along with his family, is currently embarking on a food tour across the country so you never know when it will be your states turn.

They have started in Atlanta, and are currently in New York City.

Here are a few things you may want to know just in case your restaurant is on his list of places to visit.

Surviving a food critic visit as a restaurant owner involves preparation and professionalism:

  1. Consistent Quality: Ensure your kitchen maintains consistent food quality, taste, and presentation.
  2. Staff Training: Train your staff to handle busy periods and maintain excellent service, even during unexpected visits.
  3. Cleanliness: Maintain a clean and inviting restaurant environment, including restrooms, to create a positive impression.
  4. Feedback Culture: Encourage a culture where staff welcomes feedback, both positive and constructive, to continually improve.
  5. Specials and Signature Dishes: Showcase your restaurant’s strengths by offering specials or highlighting signature dishes that represent the best of your cuisine.
  6. Presentation Matters: Pay attention to plate presentation; appealing visuals contribute to a positive dining experience.
  7. Timely Service: Ensure that orders are served promptly and efficiently, respecting the critic’s time and expectations.
  8. Engage with the Critic: If appropriate, engage with the food critic in a friendly and professional manner, ensuring they feel welcome.
  9. Address Concerns: If the critic raises concerns during their visit, address them promptly and professionally. Use it as an opportunity to showcase your commitment to customer satisfaction.
  10. Online Presence: Manage your online presence, as many critics share reviews online. Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews to balance any potential negative feedback.

Remember, even a negative review can be an opportunity for improvement. Stay composed, learn from the experience, and continue striving for excellence in your restaurant.

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