After a media firestorm in 2023, TikTok food critic Keith Lee is coming back to Atlanta for another bite

Keith Lee arrives at the Streamy Awards on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023, at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Atlanta restaurateurs beware!

The city will soon see the return of Keith Lee, the famed mixed martial artist turned TikTok sensation whose brutally honest food reviews have been known to hit restaurant owners harder than a punch to the stomach.

The 27-year-old critic on Friday announced his planned return to Atlanta as part of his “Familee Redemption Food Tour Talk.” Lee and family members will return to cities they visited in 2023 that Lee ranked poorly in terms of food, customer service and presentation.

“We gone start at the bottom of the list,” Lee said in the TikTok video, which has over 1.5 million views. “Atlanta, we coming back.”

Lee placed Atlanta last out of the eight cities he and his family members toured late last year. His videos reviewing various Atlanta hotspots instantly went viral, to both the benefit and chagrin of some of the restaurants examined.

While some establishments, such as “mom and pop spots” The Bodega and The Dining Experience, garnered a rise in patronage and social media following due to Lee’s positive reviews, others, such as College Park’s The Real Milk and Honey, did not fare too well from the critic’s visit.

“We attempted to call our order in, [and] we were greeted with an automatic message that stated they do not to do call in orders,” said Lee in his review of the restaurant in 2023.

Lee added that when his family went into the restaurant, they were greeted by a set of “unique rules,” a pattern that the critic found in most of the restaurants they visited.

Another Atlanta staple, Old Lady Gang, also experienced similar criticism from Lee, noting confusing rules regarding take-out orders and reservations.

Also when Lee went into the restaurant shortly after sending his family in, the hour-and-a-half wait time estimate given by staff to Lee’s family immediately became five minutes once they discovered the critic was with the party. Lee said he declined service, wishing to be seen and treated as a “normal person.”

Popular restaurants The Atlanta Breakfast Club and Toast on Lenox also received less than stellar reviews based on rule protocols and service, with Lee saying his biggest issue with the city was that it was “hard to get food.”

These reviews were backed by many Atlanta residents who experienced similar situations when dining throughout the city.

“It’s about time someone EXPOSED Atlanta!!,” said a YouTube user underneath a video of Lee’s experience with Old Lady Gang. “The customer service and professionalism in Atlanta is ridiculous.”

“As a person that lives in Atlanta, I hope this is a wake-up call to some of these restaurants. The extra ‘rules’ are getting crazy,” a TikTok user added under one of Lee’s reviews.

The attention, including responses from Old Lady Gang owner Kandi Buress and a critical TikTok video from The Real Milk and Honey, led to a national conversation about Atlanta’s restaurant culture covered in publications such as Slate, The New York Times and Rolling Stone.

The incident also led to criticisms of Lee. While he noted in multiple videos that he did not condone or agree with tearing down any of the businesses he was critical of, he alluded to being the victim of various death threats against him and his family for some of his reviews.

“You can disagree with me, you can not like what I say … but when my safety and my family’s safety starts coming into play, that’s where I draw the line at,” Lee said at the time.

While Lee didn’t say the specific date that he and his family will return to Atlanta, he did note that security will be on hand.

“We will be protected. It’s people with us who are legal and licensed,” Lee said in his Friday TikTok video announcing the upcoming tour. “My family is getting home safe, and I mean that with every bone in my body.”

Lee said he won’t be returning to the same restaurants as on his last visit.