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Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

The ‘Keith Lee Effect’ hits this Miami barbecue food truck after a surprise visit

By Vaseline May30,2024
The ‘Keith Lee Effect’ hits this Miami barbecue food truck after a surprise visit

Torris Cooper had never heard of Keith Lee.

So when the renowned social media food blogger stepped out of his sprinter van, surrounded by armed security and an entourage, to order from Cooper’s food truck on Memorial Day, he was a little shocked. Cooper’s confusion continued when Lee returned and asked him to charge $3,000.

“I had no idea who Keith Lee was,” says Cooper, 49, who co-owns Coop’s Pit BBQ with his brothers and father, the blazing sun beating down on his face as he visits his home the Wednesday after Lee’s visit. truck stands. As for the tip, he joked, “I’m thinking fraud or something.”

As a group of people slowly gathered around Coop’s Pit BBQ, it was clear that the food truck had experienced the phenomenon known as the ‘Keith Lee Effect’. Lee, a UFC fighter turned culinary maven with more than 16.3 million TikTok followers, has helped boost sales at restaurants across the country with his impromptu taste tests.

Lee’s arrival in South Florida was met with great enthusiasm. From the moment he announced his plans to come to Miami, followers from all over the county started spamming his comments section with restaurant recommendations. Although he’s visited Kevin Lee’s House of Mac and Braised (a pop-up his brother runs in Hollywood’s Yellowgreen Market), the food truck seems to be one of his favorites.

The subsequent flood of customers — thanks in part to Lee’s tremendous appreciation for the chicken, ribs and kale — was a welcome sight for a family-run food truck that has been in business since the late 1990s.

“We just did what I always do,” said Rhaudal Cooper Jr., 50, calling Lee’s review “real.”

Rhaudal and Torris co-own the food truck with their younger brother, 48-year-old Kelvin, and father, 73-year-old Rhaudal Sr. The three brothers graduated from Miami Central and have had many iterations of what is now known as Coop’s Pit-BBQ. There was Coop’s Catch. There was Coop’s Kitchen. There was Wing Zone. However, in 2014, Coop’s Pit BBQ came to life and they have been based at the corner of Northwest 103rd Street and 7th Avenue ever since. At any time, two to six family members can be working in the food truck.

“This is our passion,” Torris said. “This is what we do and we love it.”

Brothers Torris Cooper (left) and Rhaudal Cooper Jr.  (center) standing next to their father, Rhaudal Cooper Sr.  (right) behind their family-owned and operated food truck, Coop's BBQ Pit, on Wednesday, May 29, 2024 in Miami, Florida.  Coop's BBQ Pit, which the trio co-own with Kelvin Cooper, received the Keith Lee Seal of Approval thanks to the food blogger's review posted to TikTok on Tuesday.Brothers Torris Cooper (left) and Rhaudal Cooper Jr.  (center) standing next to their father, Rhaudal Cooper Sr.  (right) behind their family-owned and operated food truck, Coop's BBQ Pit, on Wednesday, May 29, 2024 in Miami, Florida.  Coop's BBQ Pit, which the trio co-own with Kelvin Cooper, received the Keith Lee Seal of Approval thanks to the food blogger's review posted to TikTok on Tuesday.

“If we just drive by this place and this is one of the best places we’ve had since we’ve been here – even though we’ve only tried two or three places so far – God, don’t make any mistakes,” Lee said, later he added: “In my opinion it was just customer service. He was extremely kind-hearted and seemed like he was a wonderful person.

However, the brothers did want to correct one part of Lee’s video.

“They thought we were going to close because he left the tip,” Rhaudal said, noting that the truck had opened on Memorial Day primarily to serve veterans. “(Torris) closed because he had already been here!”

With supermarket prices up more than 20 percent since January 2021, Torris couldn’t help but be grateful for Lee’s shoutout, considering what they do “to maintain a fair market price that people can afford.” The family already has plans to replace the food truck, as they do every ten years, but their ultimate goal is much bigger: a physical space. While that may take a little more than the “Keith Lee effect,” the customer service – in addition to the top-notch barbecue – is a good start.

“We treat everyone the same and we take care of everyone,” Torris said. ‘That’s our rule. We take care of the people and they in turn take care of us. It helps you build your brand and lets people know you are part of the community.”

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