Restaurant soars thanks to TikTok star


Tribune Staff Reporter


Keith Lee

A BAHAMIAN in Toronto, Canada, has seen her customer base triple since well-known food critic Keith Lee raved about her restaurant, Old Nassau, on TikTok.

Kaylandra Edgecombe said she didn’t sleep for four days while waiting for Mr Lee to post his video reviewing and rating her restaurant’s food.

She said her establishment had experienced ups and downs since she started it in 2022. Now, she believes the “Keith Lee effect” will allow it to flourish. 

Mr Lee has 16m TikTok followers. The New York Times reported last year that his reviews could “revive a small business with his legions of fans”. Negative reviews have the opposite effect.

 Mr Lee visited Old Nassau after Ms Edgecombe, 37, sent him a video inviting him to stop by.

 “This is the best food we had since we’ve been here,” he said in his video after ordering banana pancakes, fried snapper and guava butter, crack chicken, French fries, and steamed porkchop with peas and rice.

 Ms Edgecombe said he gave $500 to everybody at work that day. His video on TikTok has received 596,600 likes and 19,400 shares as of press time.

 “During the week, we would see about 80 to 100 customers but since that video dropped during the week, we serve more than 300 customers,” she said. “I’m not talking about the weekend.”

 “On the weekend, like (Saturday), we served about 300. So I would say, like, triple the number of customers.”

 Ms Edgecombe said Mr Lee’s visit was unexpected, given the thousands of restaurants in Toronto and the thousands of people pleading for him to visit.

“We’re a small community,” she said. “A small community of Bahamians here in Toronto, but people just love our food.”

“I didn’t know what his ratings were gonna be, but I knew that he liked the food because they came in and they ordered more food.”

“But as I said, I didn’t know what his ratings were going to be. So I didn’t sleep for like, three, four days because I’m like, oh my God, I don’t know what to do. But yeah, I was just I was surprised.”

 Many Bahamians were pleased that Mr Lee enjoyed the food, but found the way he ate the fried snapper humorous. Even Ms Edgecombe was taken aback.

 “I was like, no, Keith, you catch a bone,” she said.

 Ms Edgecombe has lived in the city for nearly 11 years. She officially opened Old Nassau in February 2022. She was a healthcare administrator before that. 

 During the COVID-19 pandemic, she went to nursing school and finished last year. However, she has always loved cooking.

“There was no representation of Bahamian food here in Canada,” she said, “like there’s no place you could go to get crack conch and chicken in the bag and food that we like and our flavours.”

“There was nowhere we could go. So I just took a leap of faith and say, you know, let me do something for my culture. So I literally did it for the culture.”

 Mr Lee is not the only well-known person to visit Old Nassau –– Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis has as well.

 “For him to tell me that was the best peas and rice he ever had, like, come on,” Ms Edgecombe said. “Like, my prime minister of my country asking me for seconds. His whole entourage, they really loved the food. They ordered seconds.”

 She feels a special sense of accomplishment when other Bahamians enjoy her food.

 “I could actually do this for my people,” she said. “I could actually bring things of The Bahamas to you because some people can’t go home right now. Some people can’t afford to go. You know, it’s different reasons why people haven’t been home in a while.

“There are also friends of The Bahamas or people that have visited The Bahamas before and love the cuisine and have been looking for some place to eat Bahamian food. So I feel, I guess, a sense of joy that I can actually do this for my people.”