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Viral food critic Keith Lee visits Atlanta, sparking debate around restaurant culture

Viral food critic Keith Lee reviews Atlanta restaurants, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses, and boosting business for small establishments.

Atlanta-based viral food critic, Keith Lee, recently embarked on a culinary journey through the city to sample its most sought-after food spots, as well as lesser-known establishments that could benefit from exposure on his platform. This comes on the heels of Atlanta celebrating five restaurants earning MICHELIN-rated stars.

Lee's approach to reviewing restaurants involves ordering food anonymously, consuming it outside the establishment to maintain his anonymity, providing an authentic review while eating, and rating the restaurant on a scale of 10. Upon arriving in Atlanta, Lee and his family wasted no time and headed straight to the Atlanta Breakfast Club on Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard for their first taste test.

While Lee found the food and customer service at the Atlanta Breakfast Club to be acceptable, he expressed his dissatisfaction with the restaurant's rules. Upon arrival, there was no space for them to order their food, forcing them to order outside. Additionally, the waitress informed them that she could not take any orders until their entire group was present. The restaurant also had strict policies regarding add-ons and required one order for the entire table. These rules sparked a debate about Atlanta's restaurant culture in the comments section of Lee's review.

Lee's second stop was at Atlanta rapper Lil Baby's establishment, The Seafood Menu Restaurant and Takeout, which opened in July. Unfortunately, Lee couldn't indulge in the shellfish and seafood due to his shellfish allergy. Instead, he allowed his wife and sister to taste-test the food, and they gave it a moderate rating, citing issues with seasoning, the thickness of the catfish batter, and the tartness of the lemonades.

Lee's attention was then drawn to Juci Jerk Restaurant, thanks to a message from the best friend of the owner, Ashleigh Roberts, who requested that he visit the establishment. Lee and his family left a stellar review for Juci Jerk, praising the tender and well-seasoned food, as well as the exceptional customer service. This was also the first restaurant that allowed Lee to call in his order. His review seemed to have a positive impact on Roberts' business, as users commented on their desire to visit the restaurant after reading Lee's review.

The purpose of Lee's reviews is to highlight small restaurants, including Black-owned businesses, while providing fair assessments of their strengths and weaknesses. However, not all experiences were positive. During his visit to The Real Milk and Honey on Main Street in College Park, Lee claimed that the staff refused to serve his family, citing a deep cleaning, despite the doors being open and other customers picking up orders. The restaurant later released a statement apologizing for the incident and acknowledging the need for improvements.

Lee emphasized his commitment to authenticity in his reviews, even when faced with negative experiences. In response to The Real Milk and Honey's social media post, he clarified that his intention is to share his genuine and real experiences, both positive and negative. The restaurant's response, however, was met with criticism for its lack of grace.

Fortunately, The Real Milk and Honey was not the last stop on Lee's restaurant tour. He received an email invitation from the son of the owner of The Dining Experience in Fairburn, prompting him to visit. Despite finding the parking lot and restaurant empty, Lee discovered that the food surpassed his expectations, and the customer service was exceptional. He attributed the emptiness to a lack of marketing and expressed hope that his review would help address this issue in the future. To show his appreciation, Lee left a generous tip of $1,000 on the bill and gave an additional $1,000 to the waiter who served his family.

Since his review, The Dining Experience has seen an increase in customers, as observed by social media users who have noticed a busier parking lot. Lee's most recent review featured The Bodega on Main Street in College Park, which he described as "nostalgic fun."

While Lee's tour of Atlanta's restaurants has shed light on the flaws in the city's restaurant culture, his reviews have also brought significant visibility and new customers to small businesses striving to fulfill their restaurant dreams.

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