‘The Keith Lee Effect’: North Texas restaurants see sales increase after criticism from food influencers

A popular TikTok user with 15 million followers visits some local restaurants for his famous reviews, and his videos are already changing the lives of restaurateurs.

With millions of followers, a review from food influencer Keith Lee can be very important.

Lee landed in North Texas on a food tour with a lot of anticipation about which restaurants he would choose.

Reshima Williams had to try Halal Fushionz after Lee gave it a rave review on Monday.

“I lived down the street and I didn’t even know this place was here,” she said.

Apparently a lot of people wanted to try it. Williams waited hours to receive his order.

“Oh, yeah. He definitely crashed the system,” she said.

Owner Ahmed Siyaji saw Lee was coming to town, so he emailed Lee asking him to come try his Asian fusion creations.

“I can’t even explain it. It just took me by surprise,” he said.

Once the notice was posted on TikTok, orders started pouring in.

Siyaji is usually alone in the ghost kitchen, but he had to hire two people to help him fill all the orders. Based on customer reviews, the food is worth the wait.

Lee posted that he tries restaurants that fall into three categories:
-places with good food and good customer service but may not be very well known
-popular local spots voted on by locals
-restaurants with diverse backgrounds

Hutchins BBQ, located throughout the metro complex, was one of the top votes from residents. Lee visited the McKinney site on Monday.

Taurina Alfore is a big fan of Lee’s and plans to try every place he recommends.

“His impact is enormous,” she said. “The fact that it has the popular categories and all that, I just hope it puts a lot of people on the map who deserve it.”

While both spots earned some of Lee’s highest ratings, others like Terry Black’s Barbecue and Thunderbird Pies Pizza received mixed reviews.

Thunderbird Pies, near White Rock Lake, said it still saw an uptick in business.

So whether the review is good or bad, there is always a Keith Lee effect.

“Honestly, I’m really lucky to have this experience, and it means a lot that the community is showing so much support,” Siyaji said. “Everyone comes. Everyone can try the food, but carrying on my mother’s legacy through this experience is what means a lot to me.”

Lee gave Siyaji a $1,000 tip and helped solidify Siyaji’s plan to open a catering restaurant.

Since Lee wants to eat at three restaurants in each category, he still has five restaurants left to visit.

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