YouTube star MrBeast (aka Jimmy Donaldson) may be as well known for his collaborations as he is his videos, but one of those partnerships is souring quickly. Bloomberg reports the creator is suing Virtual Dining Concepts, the "ghost kitchen" (a food service that operates from other restaurants) that runs his delivery-only MrBeast Burger fast food chain, for allegedly tarnishing his brand. VDC was supposedly more interested in rapid expansion than maintaining quality, leading to subpar food that reflected badly on its namesake. He wants a judge to terminate the licensing agreement and shut down the business.
The YouTuber points to numerous MrBeast Burger reviews that call the food "inedible" and "revolting," among similarly unflattering descriptions. "Thousands" of customers have reportedly complained about raw meat, cold fries, missing ingredients and items that never showed. Some locations couldn't get the branding right, delivering orders in generic containers or even 7-11 bags.
MrBeast's lawsuit claims that VDC either refused or was incapable of fixing quality issues when he got in touch. He adds that he hasn't received "a dime" from MrBeast Burger despite being owed royalties, and that the virtual chain frequently uses branding and registers trademarks without consent. VDC has allegedly been reluctant to support fledgling brick-and-mortar restaurants as they'd cut into its profits. It's using the MrBeast name to attract other celebrities, according to the lawsuit.
We've asked VDC for comment. MrBeast formed the partnership in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to switch to delivery food. It was a way to help (and capitalize on) fans while giving restaurants more business at a time when in-person dining wasn't an option. MrBeast Burger would share its revenues with hosts, rather than competing directly with those brands.
Ghost kitchens will carry on regardless of the lawsuit's outcome. They let entrepreneurs launch restaurants with only a small physical footprint, and lean on services like DoorDash and Uber Eats for delivery. However, the legal action illustrates what can go wrong with these outlets — without a retail presence, they aren't always subject to the same scrutiny as their conventional counterparts.