Keith Lee, a retired mixed martial artist turned social media influencer, has brought attention to the “Black elitism” culture within Atlanta’s restaurant scene. As Lee expands his food tour to Houston, he continues to expose and address these issues while emphasizing the importance of fair treatment for all customers.
The “Keith Lee” Effect
In his journey from a professional fighter to a food enthusiast, Keith Lee found solace in creating family and cooking-inspired content on TikTok.
This helped alleviate his social anxiety and prepared him for post-fight interviews. His videos caught the attention of People vs. Food, a popular YouTube channel, leading to collaborations that boosted his social media presence.
Transitioning from fighting to food, Lee and his wife started posting daily food reviews. As their following grew, they began focusing on smaller businesses, receiving requests to try and rate food in various cities like Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and Chicago.
To ensure unbiased experiences, Lee started sending family members to order food, hoping to avoid any preferential treatment given to him as a social media influencer. In October 2023, his food tour took him to Atlanta, where he encountered a “Black elitism” culture within the city’s restaurant industry.
Lee Criticizes ATL For Toxic Elitism
Several of Lee’s videos highlighted the strict rules and unfamiliar practices imposed by restaurants, such as no take-out orders, limitations on dine-in times or party sizes, and fluctuating hours.
Establishments like The Atlanta Breakfast Club charged extra for butter and required a single order for the entire table. Notably, The Real Milk & Honey and Old Lady Gang initially refused to serve Lee’s family but changed their policy after his arrival.
Lee expressed his frustration in one of his review videos, emphasizing:
“ I pay for my food like everybody else. I walk up in spots like everybody else. We are all normal people. Respectfully, if you’re not going to do it then, don’t do it now.”
‘The Real Milk & Honey’ ATL
Social media users joined the conversation, sharing their own experiences and discussing the issue of black elitism in Atlanta’s food scene, particularly about ordering ahead, customer service, and denial of service based on perceived status.
Despite encounters with unsatisfactory service, Keith Lee stated:
“ I do not support, condone, or agree with tearing down these businesses. While we personally may not have the best personal service experience, it does not mean you will have the same experience. It also don’t mean go on Twitter and tear these businesses down. At the end of the day, business owners are people and you never know what people are going through.”
Expanding his food tour to Houston, Texas, Keith Lee continues his quest for honest food reviews.
So far, he has visited establishments like The Breakfast Klub and The Puddery, where he received excellent customer service and enjoyed delicious food. His reviews have helped small businesses gain significant attention, as seen with The Puddery’s social media following skyrocketing from 800 to 75,000 followers within 24 hours.
As Keith Lee navigates through different cities on his food tour, his experiences shed light on the need for fair treatment and inclusivity within the restaurant industry.
Lil Baby’s New Business Venture
Speaking of notable restaurants, Atlanta’s own Lil Babycelebrated the grand opening of his latest venture, The Seafood Menu Restaurant & Lounge, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in July 2023. The restaurant promised to be a “delectable seafood haven.”