Frank Steele dreamed of opening his own pizza place for more than 30 years, but when he finally did, his business didn’t exactly take off.
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After he opened Frankensons in Las Vegas, Nevada in late 2022, the family-run small business struggled to pay its rent each month. Then, an employee had a stroke of genius and reached out to TikTok food critic Keith Lee to see if he’d try their food. Keith swung by on a Monday afternoon, and he was instantly impressed by the service.
“It has been a struggle,” Frank said. “I was lucky if I did $400 a day.”
Frank had a hard time keeping the doors open, but that didn’t stop him from being friendly and generous with everyone who came into the pizzeria. When Keith came in, Frank served him himself, tossing in lots of extra dipping sauces with Keith’s order of two pizzas, half an Italian sub, chicken wings in two or three flavors, and garlic knots.
Frank said he didn’t know who Keith was, but when he asked the younger man what he does for a living, Keith confessed that he is a food critic. The two chatted for a while, and then Keith went home to try Frank’s food. Spoiler alert: he loved it!
In a TikTok video that would go on to earn over 30 million views, Keith told the whole story of how Frankensons was struggling to pay their rent when that employee reached out to him. He promised to give his usual honest, unfiltered review of the food, even though he was touched by their small business story.
Just a few bites in, and Keith was already a fan!
“This is one of the best wings I’ve ever had,” said Keith as he happily munched on a wing. “This is a 10.”
Keith grew more enthusiastic with each of the foods he purchased. When he had sampled everything, he declared the restaurant a “9.8 out of 10” and urged his millions of followers to try it. He deduced that the restaurant’s problem isn’t the food, it’s simply an issue of not enough marketing to bring in customers.
“Frank, from me to you, this is my opinion, there is no way you should be behind on rent or struggling on rent,” Keith concluded. “This is marketing. That’s 100% what I feel like. That food is delicious. The service is amazing.”
Just hours after Keith posted his video, Frank’s business started to boom! His own TikTok page gained 70,000 followers overnight, and hundreds of people visited the restaurant to try his food. Frank called in help from family and friends to meet the demand, but they had to close early because they ran out of food to make!
“Our phone never stopped ringing,” Frank said happily. “I’ve sold more lemon pepper wings in the last two days than I have in the past four months. I made more garlic knots yesterday and the day before than I’ve ever made.”
People even traveled from other states to try Frankensons! In a follow-up video, Keith went back to the restaurant to try one of Frank’s milkshakes, but the line was winding down the street so he couldn’t even get in! Frank greeted Keith like returning royalty, playfully “wringing his neck” for making things so busy at work for him. The two seem like they’ll be good friends!
While he’s overwhelmed, Frank says he couldn’t be more grateful to Keith for telling the world about his food.
“It’s just been overwhelming,” he said. “It’s been a blessing. This restaurant has been a dream of mine for 30 years.”
He added: “All I can say is thank you. This has been life-changing.”
Keith didn’t charge a dime to review Frank’s restaurant, he just did it because he enjoys shining a spotlight on little-known eateries. What a lucky break for this wonderful restaurant owner!
Share this story if you wish you lived close enough to Vegas to try Frank’s food, too!
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