YouTube mega-success MrBeast is suing Virtual Dining Concepts, the company behind his ghost kitchen food chain, MrBeast Burger, for damaging the MrBeast brand. According to the lawsuit, thousands of fans have sent in negative reviews of MrBeast Burger, many of whom shared photos of burgers and chicken sandwiches with uncooked, inedible meat. MrBeast’s team also claims that Virtual Dining Concepts violated their contract by failing to pay royalties and registering MrBeast Burger trademarks without the YouTuber’s permission. So, MrBeast’s team is suing the ghost kitchen company to get out of the contract and shut down the MrBeast Burger business.
The MrBeast Burger franchise has made millions of dollars since opening in 2020, though, according to the lawsuit, MrBeast himself — the 25-year-old Jimmy Donaldson — has “not received a dime” and is owed money from the venture. To make matters worse, customers say the food is “inedible.”
Since launch, the burger chain has gotten mixed reviews. Still, the brand is popular enough that last year, ten thousand kids and teens crowded New Jersey’s American Dream mall for the opening of a brick-and-mortar MrBeast Burger store. Some queued all night to be at the front of the line.
But per the lawsuit, MrBeast feels he is letting these fans down.
“When Joe DiMaggio was asked why he hustled on every play of every game, he responded that ‘there is always a kid who may be seeing me for the first time. I owe him my best,’” begins the legal complaint. “This encapsulates the philosophy that one of the most accomplished and prolific online content creators in the world [MrBeast] brings to everything he does.” (Note: lawsuits typically do not open with Joe DiMaggio quotes.)
According to MrBeast’s team, the YouTuber complained to Virtual Dining Concepts about the ghost kitchen’s lack of quality control, but the company did not rectify these issues. The lawsuit includes an 85 page document highlighting just a fraction of the bad press around the enterprise, which call MrBeast burger the “worst burger ever,” “a terrible meme burger,” “raw and disgusting” and “tough as shoe leather.”
As a ghost kitchen, Virtual Dining Concepts uses the kitchens of local restaurants to prepare the food, then sells it on delivery apps like Grubhub, UberEats and DoorDash. The company works with other internet stars like the hosts of sports podcast Pardon My Take, who opened a restaurant called Pardon My Cheesesteak.
But consumers are losing trust in ghost kitchens. In March, Uber Eats removed 5,000 such brands from its app. John Mullenholz of UberEats told the Wall Street Journal that customers are “effectively seeing 12 versions of the same menu” on the app, which sparks a “Wild West, anything goes kind of situation” that “erodes consumer confidence.” In the best cases, ghost kitchens can offer aspiring restauranteurs a chance to pilot a menu without paying the costs of a physical space; but oftentimes, ghost kitchens are actually just mediocre moneygrabs run out of chains like Chili’s, Applebee’s or even Chuck E. Cheese.
In the lawsuit, MrBeast’s team included an email from a parent who ordered MrBeast Burger for his kids, and after being disappointed by the food quality, he managed to trace the ghost kitchen back to a 7-11.
“I just don’t see how a place like 7-11 should be preparing and serving $10 burgers and expensive fries for a figure so well known and loved by so many people especially when they arrive in a white plastic bag,” the customer wrote.
Other ghost kitchens operated by Virtual Dining Concepts seem to have similar problems, according to online customer reviews. One Pardon My Cheesesteak customer in Kansas wrote on Yelp, “This isn’t a real place. I ordered from doordash and got a call an hr later saying ihop doesn’t have the ingredients to fulfill my order lol they are just a vendor for various restaurants.”
Internet creators like MrBeast turn to businesses like food and merchandise to capitalize on their possibly fleeting fame by developing alternative revenue streams. But if you order a raw burger that’s branded with your favorite YouTuber’s name, you’ll be left with a sour (if not worse) taste in your mouth.