St. Louis restaurant stands up to Los Angeles ‘influencer,’ strikes nerve | Off the Menu

Corner 17 was approached with an Instagram user @antonio_eats_la. He has more than 200,000 followers and offered $100. He wrote a direct message to Corner 17 and asked for $100 off his next visit to Delmar Loop Chinese restaurant.

Corner 17’s owner, Xin Wei, tells Off the Menu that he understands the need to increase his restaurant’s Instagram followers. But the restaurant had already been so busy lately that he didn’t want to participate in promotions — especially since @antonio_eats_la is apparently based in Los Angeles.

Wei replied to your offer. “collaboration” wouldn’t work for Corner 17.

“He still came anyway,” Wei says.

The negative review and subsequent visit caused a commotion in St. Louis social media about the ethics behind so-called influencers.

The user @antonio_eats_la — until recently on his Instagram account and in 2020 interview, he has identified himself as Antonio Malik — ate at Corner 17 on March 26.

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Wei messaged him that night from Corner 17’s Instagram account: “I hope you liked the food tonight.”

The food “honestly wasn’t good,”Malik replied that the service was still available. “great.”

“I wouldn’t recommend this place to anyone,”Malik wrote. “Sorry!”

Malik tag Corner 17 in an Instagram story publicized on Tuesday. Over one image of the restaurant’s food, he wrote, “Worst dumplings ever!,”He made a vulgar comparison of the food’s taste to another person while he was talking to another.

Wei states that Corner 17 is open for feedback and criticism. The restaurant can’t improve otherwise.

He said, “But this, he said, “is not criticism anymore. I realized this is more like (an) attack because … we did not give him, like, $100 off.”

On Corner 17’s Instagram account, Wei posted screenshots of Malik’s initial offer and his later review.

“An intentionally bad write-up from a large following influencer because of our refusal to accept their collaboration is unprofessional and a such hostile manner can simply ruin their businesses,” the post’s caption reads in part.

“I want to step up because we felt threatened by this media influencer. I want to give a voice to my Asian community that is OK to say no and turn down any promotional offers, no fear to stand up and defend yourself.”

As of Friday morning The post has been liked by just under 16,000 people and received more than 1,500 comments.

“Sometimes, you just have to stand up for yourself,” Wei says.

Malik had made his Instagram account public by Thursday. He changed the account’s bio to read, “I would never take money for a (positive) review and never leave a (negative) review just because someone didn’t want to work with me.”

Due to “death threats,”He wrote.

His account was made public again on Friday. He posted a video statement. “clear the air.” He said the narrative that he left a bad review of Corner 17 because the food wasn’t comped, was “not the case.”

Malik did not respond to an Instagram message and an email seeking comment on Friday.

Wei says in Asian communities, especially among his parents’ generation, the inclination is to work hard and not seek trouble. During the past week’s events, his own parents told him to “just let it go.”

“I was like, no, I can’t let it go,”He said.

A father now himself, Wei says he didn’t know what he would say to his own kids to get through such a situation.

“At least I want to do something for (the) community,”He said.

Corner 17 has been embraced by the community, Wei says. “We have a lot of great, loyal customers, and they just swing by and say, ‘Hi.’ And a lot of people tipped the servers with pretty big tips.”

One server was moved by the generosity.

Wei calls it the gesture. “was just very warm. It’s so warm.”

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