The fate of New Orleans, LA-based entrepreneur Stricen Carter changed within 24 hours after a Keith Lee review.

Carter, 26, owner of NOLA Sips and Sweet Thangs, moved from Houston to New Orleans at 17 years old to pursue nursing at Dillard University. Though the nursing program was suspended, Carter said she “began to fall in love with the city of New Orleans,” per the company website. After working relentlessly in the French quarter, starting with NOLA Sips, “fruity flavored cocktails made for on the go,” she was able to open a restaurant within seven years of moving to the city.

“I started with God and a dream, no partners or investors and I never could afford marketing,” she wrote to Keith Lee when asking him to check out her business.

Lee, who is currently embarking on a national food tour, was compelled by Carter’s direct message. So, he paid her restaurant a visit.

Lee spent $45 on menu items including two pineapple snowballs — which he rated a 9/10 — and seafood egg rolls.

@keith_lee125 Sweet Thangs by NOLASIPS taste test 💕 would you try it ? 💕 #foodcritic ♬ original sound – Keith Lee

Keith made it clear, although he enjoyed the food, the true star of the show is the heart of the restaurant.

“I walked in and immediately felt like this means a lot more to people than food,” Lee said on TikTok. “This feels like one of those places where the locals got tabs and everybody knows each other, and the owner knows everybody on a first name basis, and kids can just go up there with change. They get a snowball and a quesadilla and just enjoy their summer, and that’s what this feels like to me. That’s invaluable to a community.”

Lee’s message left a lasting impact on some followers. Within 24 hours of posting the review on TikTok, Carter said her sales doubled.

“Hey Keith we doubled our sales today from yesterday and sold about 15 pineapples thank you,” she told Lee.

The boost in sales is divine timing. Carter was on the verge of closing shop and operating as a mobile business. She already created a list of items she intended to sell to close shop in September 2023.

“I was literally planning on closing my business next month and going mobile because I am sooo far behind on bills. You truly motivated [me] to keep going, keep believing and stay open for the community,” she expressed.

Keith Lee responded, “God is amazing. I’m honored to have any part in avoiding that! Yeah everything happens the way it’s supposed to!”

@keith_lee125 Mew Orleans Food Tour taste test 💕 would you try it ? 💕 #foodcritic ♬ original sound – Keith Lee