Keith Lee-Approved Food Truck Faces Allegations of Tip Mismanagement
After a series of underwhelming food reviews, TikTok food influencer Keith Lee's (@keith_lee125) Dallas culinary tour hit a snag. Lee's review of Sweetly Seasoned, a local food truck, led to unexpected controversy after he gave them a generous tip. This triggered a wave of backlash and accusations of impropriety against the truck's owner, Chef Kim Viverette.
Deon Spelling, Viverette's son, initiated the chain of events by reaching out to Lee on TikTok. In a heartfelt video, Spelling shared his mother's culinary expertise as an award-winning pastry chef but lamented the food truck's struggle with marketing. Lee, moved by the plea, decided to pay a visit.
During the visit, Lee commended the Sweetly Seasoned team's work ethic, acknowledging their hustle in a north Dallas parking lot, colloquially referred to as "the hood." Impressed, the influencer then decided to hand over a $4,000 tip.
Lee, known for his philanthropic gestures, gave precise instructions on how the tip must be distributed. He earmarked $1,000 each for a local barber and braider, intended to cover free haircuts, while the remaining $2,000 was designated for Viverette and Sweetly Seasoned.
However, this inspiring tale took a dark turn within twenty-four hours. Sherell S. Hodge, who helped promote Sweetly Seasoned to Lee, accused Viverette of pocketing the entire $4,000. In a TikTok video, Sherell asserted that her brother, Bradley Hodge, the barber featured in Lee's video, had not received his promised $1,000 tip.
Bradley corroborated his sister's claims on Instagram, publicly urging Lee to address the situation. According to Sherell, Viverette insisted that the entire tip was hers, as she hadn't sought the Hodges' help or services, justifying her entitlement to the entire sum. The online exchange escalated rapidly. "Sweetly Seasoned, you owe him," Sherell said.
Defending the business, Spelling accused Sherell of "clout chasing" in a TikTok video. He alleged that she just wanted to film Lee for her own social media recognition. The controversy prompted Sweetly Seasoned to delete its Instagram account, though Spelling's account remained active.
The clash between the Hodges and Spelling quickly went viral, with online fans condemning the food truck and vowing to boycott the establishment. One commentator wrote, "That Sweetly Seasoned lady just embarrassed Dallas and herself."
This incident marks the first tip-stealing allegation against a Keith Lee-approved restaurant. Lee, renowned for leaving four-digit donations for struggling businesses, describes his actions as a "blessing." Beyond monetary contributions, he concludes his reviews with prayers, expressing hope that the featured eateries reach their intended audience.
Known for the so-called "Keith Lee effect," the social media star has consistently revitalized struggling local businesses with his reviews. However, the Sweetly Seasoned controversy prompts a reassessment of the impact and potential pitfalls associated with such generosity.
As the fallout continues, both Hodges and Spelling remain active on social media, maintaining their respective positions. Fans express disappointment, with many declaring their decision to avoid Sweetly Seasoned in the wake of the controversy.
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