A man was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer after opening his dream restaurant. His son says TikToker Keith Lee helped save the business from 'going down.'

Keith Lee's review of Dynamite restaurant has gone viral.
Keith Lee's review of Dynamite restaurant has gone viral.Steve Park
  • Jong Park was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer after opening a restaurant in Las Vegas, his son said.

  • TikToker Keith Lee reviewed the Korean restaurant after hearing that it was struggling.

  • Lee's review has drawn attention to the restaurant, which has gone from 20 to 100 customers a day.

TikToker Keith Lee said his review of a family-run restaurant in Las Vegas has led to nearly $30,000 in donations from strangers who want to help the owner, who has stage 4 cancer, keep the business afloat.

Lee — who often makes content from tasting food from small businesses — shared a TikTok on February 26 where he said he was inspired to review Dynamite Korean Street Food & Sushi/Grill after an employee called Reggy emailed him to share the story of its owner, Jong Park.

In the clip, which has 11.3 million views as of Saturday, Lee says Dynamite recently opened but was struggling in the wake of Jong's cancer diagnosis.

"The email said, in my own words, 'I'm an employee here at this family-owned business. We just opened two weeks ago. It's been very slow'," Lee said. "'The owner, right after he found out he was getting his dream of having a restaurant, was diagnosed with stage four neck cancer and he still shows up and cooks every day'."

@keith_lee125 #stitch with @dynamitevegas Dynamite Korean St Food & Sushi/Grill taste test 💕 would you try it ? 💕 #foodcritic ♬ original sound - Keith Lee

In his video, Lee said he spent $79.50 on food at the restaurant — ordering in a deep voice to conceal his identity — and, while he waited, spoke to the owner's son Steve. According to Lee, Steve told him business had been slow, with about 20 customers stopping by on an average day.

The TikToker went on to review the food he ordered, which included Galbi short ribs, japchae, and bulgogi. In his video, Lee suggested that some of the food could've benefited from the addition of various sauces, and ranked the dishes, giving most between seven and nine out of 10 points.

Soon after Lee posted his review on TikTok, things started changing for the Park family

Speaking to Insider, Steve said he found it difficult to describe how grateful he and his family were to Lee for shining a light on their struggle.

Before Lee's TikTok, Steve said his family considered bankruptcy multiple times. He added that he himself had invested a "whopping" $200,000 in maxed-out credit cards and that his parents had invested their life savings in order to buy the restaurant and keep it running as they opened.

"It was beyond extreme financial burden and pressure," Steve said. "This really helps our family and my dad have some peace of mind."

Since the review, he said the number of customers a day on average has jumped to between 80 and 120, with sales rising from between $800 and $1,000 a day to between $2,000 and $3,000.

But because business has picked up so much, they've had to institute a 30-40 minute waitlist as Steve's mother and father, even with his condition, are still the only ones cooking in the kitchen.

"My parents still need more chefs on staff so we're actively working on that and hiring, but it will take time," he said. "We're still doing 15-17 hour days with 2-3 hours of sleep. It's real rough but we're thankful we have the opportunity to serve customers delicious food."

In a TikTok uploaded to the restaurant's account on Monday, which has over 2.2 million views as of Saturday, Steve showed viewers clips of his dad receiving cancer treatment.

"It hasn't been easy for us," Steve said in the video. "We're first-generation immigrants coming to America fulfilling the American dream. And I wanted to do everything we can to open up this new restaurant, which we did. When we lost all hope, Keith Lee gave us an amazing review and revived our restaurant, and saved my dad and our business from going down."

Due to the number of Lee's followers who reached out wanting to help, Steve said he created a GoFundMe page to raise donations that would help run the business and pay for Jong's medical bills. It's raised nearly $31,150 as of Saturday.

In the description of his GoFundMe page, Steve wrote that his family had spent six months worrying about how to afford the $8,000 a month restaurant rent on top of Jong's medical expenses.

Steve has shared more updates about his dad's treatment and the restaurant on TikTok, including a video from Thursday where he says they've decided to close the restaurant for a week every three weeks until May so that Jong doesn't have to work while undergoing chemotherapy.

The Park family restaurant has gone from having about five followers on TikTok to over 80,000

Lee shared an update on TikTok on Monday, a day after posting his review of the restaurant. In the clip, which has over 2.4 million views as of Saturday, Lee said he spoke to Steve on the phone about the restaurant's growing popularity.

"God is amazing. I'm appreciative and I'm thankful for everybody who traveled there and everybody who was really friendly," Lee said.

@keith_lee125 24 hour update on @dynamitevegas & @ahavfood 💕 Would you try it ? 💕 #foodcritic ♬ original sound - Keith Lee

Lee also shared screenshots of the restaurant's TikTok followers before and after his review, showing how the number jumped from less than five to over 20,000 a day later. As of Saturday, Dynamite Korean Street Food & Sushi/Grill has nearly 81,400 followers on the platform.

Keith Lee did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

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