Keith Lee makes restaurants go viral—now Microsoft is helping him address what comes next

June 10, 2024
Emmy Liederman
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The first episode of "Reheat with Keith Lee" features Brandi Bond of Pretty Soul Kitchen in Las Vegas. Lee's 2023 review of the restaurant has garnered over 25 million views.

When Keith Lee posts a restaurant review on TikTok, users in the comments wish the staff a good night’s sleep. 

Lee, the former MMA fighter who posts food reviews to his audience of over 16 million followers, has notoriously left small businesses with an unprecedented business boom. In partnership with Microsoft, Lee is recognizing that sudden fame is not always glamorous, and is setting up these business owners for more sustainable success. 

The branded video series “The Reheat with Keith Lee” spotlights three Black-owned restaurants that have blown up after Lee’s reviews, with an honest conversation about the ups and downs of virality. The series is part of an educational hub for Microsoft’s AI tool Copilot, where the brand outlines practical use cases for small businesses. 

@keith_lee125 The Reheat With Microsoft 💕 would you try it ? 💕 #foodcritic #microsoftpartner #TheReheatWithKeithLee @Microsoft ♬ original sound - Keith Lee

“It’s hard not to root for each business enhanced by the 'Keith Lee effect,'" said Amanda O’Neal, senior director of multicultural communications at Microsoft, “and as we watched customers pour into restaurants after a visit by Keith and his family, we realized that Microsoft has tools and resources to extend what Keith was already doing for local communities.” 

Research has shown that Black-owned businesses are more understaffed, and O’Neal identified that the challenge was product awareness—when business owners are tied up with day-to-day operations, implementing emerging tech into their workflows may not be top of mind. 

“We thought, 'What if we could help restaurants sustain the surge in reservations and food purchases with products and services that are already available?'" she said. 

Creator collabs and AI anxiety 

Microsoft saw compatibility between Lee’s track record of driving business growth and its own mission to sustain it. The brand’s focus on productivity has made it suitable for collaborations with a wide range of creators that attract diverse audiences and interests. Microsoft is also recognizing that the best way to address any consumer anxiety around AI is by tapping creators to start the conversation.

@mikaela.pabon Twenty years ago, I never would have imagined being able to sell my own designs on my own website, or having a career as a content creator. But here we are! #MicrosoftPartner AI is another one of those things we maybe didn’t see coming 20 years ago, and while it can be a little confusing to try and figure out if you can and how you could incorporate it into your work or your life, I think it’s best if we remember that no matter how we choose to use it, our creativity, our voice will still shine through in the end. @Microsoft ♬ original sound - Mikaela Pabon

“Recently we collaborated with creators Speedy Morman, Kelsey Russell, Mikaela Pabon and Scot Louie to start an open dialogue with their audiences about AI’s role in our lives, help acknowledge feelings of uncertainty, and share ways AI can help their followers every day,” said O’Neal, stressing the importance of working with talent that ranges from a fashion stylist to a TV host. 

Microsoft brought The Reheat video series and Copilot educational hub outside of social platforms, which O'Neal said was the most accessible and longterm solution.

“Keith has said, 'I don’t just see a business. I see the people behind them,'" said O’Neal. “As we thought about the best way to help busy restaurateurs and small business owners get access to AI and other resources, we knew they would need to have one destination they could bookmark, access on web or mobile, and easily navigate. The Reheat resource hub felt like the right solution.” 

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