'The Keith Lee Effect:' North Texas restaurants see boost in sales after food influencer's reviews

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

With millions of followers, a review from food influencer Keith Lee can be a big deal.

Lee landed in North Texas for a food tour to a lot of anticipation about which restaurants he’d choose.

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

"I used to live down the street, and I didn’t even know this place was here," she said.

Apparently, a lot of people wanted to try it out. Williams waited hours to get her order.

"Oh, yeah. He definitely crashed the system," she said.

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

"I can’t even explain it. It just caught me by surprise," he said.

Once the review was posted to TikTok, orders started flooding in.

Siyaji is typically by himself at the ghost kitchen, but he had to hire two people to help fill all the orders. Judging from customer reviews, the food is worth the wait.

Lee posted that he’s trying out restaurants that fit into three categories: places with good food and good customer service but may not be well-known, popular local spots voted on by locals, and restaurants with diverse backgrounds. 

Hutchins BBQ, with locations across the metroplex, was a top locals vote. Lee visited the McKinney location on Monday. 

Taurina Alfore is a big Lee fan and plans to try every spot he recommends.

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

While the two spots earned some of Lee’s top ratings, others like Terry Black's Barbecue and Thunderbird Pies Pizza got mixed reviews. 

Thunderbird Pies near White Rock Lake said they’ve still seen an uptick in business.

So whether the review is good or bad, there’s still a Keith Lee effect.


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Lee, who is from Las Vegas, became a TikTok star because of his food reviews. He has more than 14 million viewers and over 600 million views.

"I’m honestly just really blessed to have this experience, and it just means a lot that the community is showing so much support," Siyaji said. "Everyone is coming. Everyone is getting to try the food, but carrying on my mom’s legacy through this experience that’s what means a lot to me."

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

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