YouTube personality MrBeast is suing the company responsible for his branded line of fast food including the MrBeast Burger, citing “inedible” food delivered to customers. The company, Virtual Dining Concepts, partnered with James Donaldson, aka MrBeast, in 2020 to launch the menu out of “ghost kitchens” — storefronts that have no physical presence whose food is made and served out of other existing restaurants.
Donaldson’s lawsuit alleges that Virtual Dining Concepts was more concerned with expanding its line of MrBeast food than quality control and that the food was consistently bad enough to hurt his reputation. MrBeast fans have described the food as “revolting” and “likely the worst burger [they] have ever had,” among other negative reviews quoted in the lawsuit. The news was first reported by Bloomberg.
“As a result, MrBeast Burger has been regarded as a misleading, poor reflection of the MrBeast brand that provides low-quality products to customers that are delivered late, in unbranded packaging, fail to include the ordered items, and in some instances, were inedible,” the lawsuit reads. Donaldson alleges that he and his team raised concerns about the food but that Virtual Dining Concepts didn’t address them.
Since 2020, Donaldson has used his online fame to hype up his line of fast food: the grand opening of a Beast Burger restaurant in New Jersey drew a crowd of 10,000 people hoping to try the YouTuber’s food, with Donaldson himself showing up for the opening and promoting it. As of last year, 1,700 restaurants across the country were fulfilling MrBeast Burger orders. Donaldson is now asking the judge for the right to end the business partnership altogether.
In an emailed press release sent to The Verge, Virtual Dining Concepts said Donaldson’s lawsuit was “riddled with false statements and inaccuracies,” and said Donaldson recently “attempted to negotiate a new deal to serve his own monetary interests.”
“When VDC refused to accede to his bullying tactics to give up more of the company to him, he filed this ill-advised and meritless lawsuit seeking to undermine the MrBeast Burger brand and terminate his existing contractual obligations without cause,” says the statement, which was sent by Amy Sadowsky, VDC’s executive vice president of public relations.
Virtual Dining Concepts also said “it is business as usual” for MrBeast Burger — good news for anyone who wants to try the controversial sandwiches.
Donaldson has also parlayed his fame into a marketing channel for other products, from branded basketballs and hoodies to Feastables, a line of cookies and chocolate bars.
So-called ghost kitchens exploded during the pandemic but have more recently taken a hit. Earlier this year, Uber Eats removed thousands of virtual restaurants and tightened its rules, hoping to cut down on spam. The questionable quality hasn’t stopped businesses from jumping into the virtual restaurant industry, and even TikTok has experimented with online-only restaurants that are actually run out of your local Chuck E. Cheese.
Update August 1st, 2023 6:10PM ET: Added statement from Virtual Dining Concepts.