Keith Lee is a TikTok-famous food reviewer with nearly 13 million followers.
Lee gave an Orlando-based restaurant low reviews, prompting the owner to speak out on TikTok.
TikTok users have applauded the owner's response and videos of him rallying his staff.
TikTok food influencer Keith Lee gave a Florida hot-chicken restaurant a low review, prompting the owner to respond in a now-viral video.
On May 18, Lee reviewed the Orlando-based restaurant Chicken Fire, gaining more than 12.4 million views in just over a week. Although Lee said the staff was friendly and accommodating, he was less impressed with the food, giving the "soulful" chicken tenders a 5.6 out of 10 because they were "more wet and soggy than juicy." He also ranked chicken tenders with "meek" seasoning a 3.5 out of 10 and gave a chicken sandwich a 3 out of 10.
@keith_lee125 #stitch @Chicken Fire with Chicken Fire taste test 💕 would you try it ? 💕 #foodcritic ♬ original sound - Keith Lee
"Just because I'm not a huge fan don't mean you won't be," Lee said during the review. "You might try it and you might love it. This might be your favorite chicken spot."
He added that he had "zero malicious intent" and dissuaded his 12.7 million followers from leaving hate comments.
Lee's reviews often make waves both online and in real life. While he gains millions of views per video, businesses that receive a glowing review see their popularity skyrocket and receive an influx of customers. His less-enthused review of Chicken Fire left some of his followers surprised, with one person adding, "I love chicken fire, this makes me sad."
On Google, Chicken Fire has nearly 1,000 reviews and a 4.6 average rating. The restaurant has similar rating on Facebook with 226 reviews.
One week after the review, Chicken Fire owner Kwame Boakye shared a TikTok video of him reacting to Lee's video. Instead of calling Lee out, Boakye applauded his staff and acknowledged that Lee's criticisms were "fair."
@kwamebtv Our closing meeting at @Chicken Fire the night of the @Keith Lee viral #foodreview of Chicken Fire 🔥 - Our teams work really hard and I sincerely believe they performed to the best of their collective abilities that day as they do most everyday. At the end of the day, we've never aimed to please everyone - that's impossible; instead, we have always strived to be an excellent fit for all the right people (and thankfully, there are many of them). Not everyone will like or appreciate what we do, and many criticize it, and some even hate on it. That's alright—such challenges come with the territory in our line of work. Personally, I remain unfazed by any negativity, but I was fully aware that this particular review (due to it's virality and massive reach) could easily affect our team members directly. That's why it was crucial for me to address the issue immediately that night. I made it clear to our amazing team that I wasn't upset, disappointed, or discouraged. As the owner/operator, they are an extension of me, and their work reflects directly on me. I stood unwaveringly by them, and I wanted them to do the same for one another. I have complete confidence in what we do, what we stand for, and the continuous growth we're experiencing. As we approach our fourth year, we are incredibly fortunate to have an extraordinary family of loyal and supportive guests that sustains us. At this point, no single opinion can truly harm us. Regardless of their ultimate opinion, we value and appreciate everyone who walks through our doors, whether they visit once or a hundred times. We have so much to be proud of, and there are countless opportunities on the horizon. We aren't wasting our time dwelling on one less-than-satisfactory review, regardless of its magnitude.🔥 Much love, respect and appreciation to Keith for coming out and trying us and for sharing us with his audience🙏🏿 #keithlee #chickenfire #restaurantlife ♬ original sound - KwameB
In a second video, Boakye showed his kitchen workers sounding dismayed over the review.
"I'm surprised," one staffer said. "I thought he was going to give a good review. We did a really good job."
He later appears on screen to give the Chicken Fire staff a pep talk by yelling, "it doesn't matter what the review was!"
"I stand by this team. Those that were here, those that weren't here," Boakye said. "I know every single person did what they were supposed to do, did their part, and put out the best product that we can reasonably provide."
In a conversation with Insider, Boakye said it was "so important" to capture the intimate moment with his team.
"I want it to be immortalized for our current team and any future teams. They are an extension of my family. I will always uphold them and stand by them because, at the end of the day, I am nothing without them," Boakye said. "It was important for them to know that I was not upset, I was not disappointed, and I was not discouraged. I 100% believe they executed and did what they were supposed to do."
Boakye, who also owns The Wing Spot, added, "The same hospitality that we would show towards a guest is the exact same hospitality we need to show towards our team."
"Every single person on our team needs to always feel valued, appreciated, and respected. I value each and every single person's contribution," he said.
When asked if he was surprised by the review, Boakye said he respected Lee's opinion and had no expectations beforehand. He added that Chicken Fire typically receives positive reviews, so one opinion won't dissuade him or his staff.
"The only way perfection could exist is if you eliminate preference and subjectivity," Boakye said. "You can never make something that's going to please anybody. I know any given day, there are going to be people that don't like what we do. I'm a restaurant owner and operator – every single day, I get feedback."
TikTok users praised Boakye's response in the comment sections of his recent videos, calling him a "great leader."
"I think you handled it well," one person wrote. "You gathered your team to ensure the review did not discourage them or affect their work ethic! Still a win! Nice job."
This month, Lee also tried comedian Kevin Hart's vegan restaurant and said he was "shocked" by how much it tasted like chicken. He's also collaborated with the world's biggest YouTuber, Mr. Beast, who gave one restaurant owner $10,000 in February.
Read the original article on Insider