Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast, launched his burger chain concept, MrBeast Burger, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first shop opened in November 2020 in North Carolina, and the chain quickly expanded into hundreds of additional locations, using a ghost kitchen setup where existing restaurants were contracted to make and send out MrBeast Burger’s food to customers. But that created serious quality control problems. While some people had fine experiences, others complained about their burgers being charred or completely raw. Still, however, MrBeast Burger opened with huge buzz; a New Jersey opening in 2022 drew over 10,000 to a mall location, which quickly became overwhelmed by people.
But by 2023, MrBeast himself had realized that MrBeast Burger wasn’t a great idea, and something he wanted to move on from.
Donaldson seems to regret signing the MrBeast Burger deal with Virtual Dining Concepts, the company behind the ghost kitchens, citing a damaged reputation from burgers that were called “disgusting,” “revolting,” and “inedible,” according to a lawsuit filed by Donaldson’s Beast Investments. The lawsuit says that Virtual Dining Concepts won’t let Donaldson out of the burger deal, despite more than half of the restaurants having ratings of less than two out of five stars — so Beast Investments is suing to get out of the deal. Beast Investments filed the lawsuit in late July, and in early August, Virtual Dining Concepts sued Donaldson right back, saying that he hasn’t honored his contract and has intentionally interfered with the business’s success. The company is reportedly seeking damages upward of $100 million.
Who is MrBeast?
Donaldson, aka MrBeast, is a 25-year-old YouTuber, and one of the most subscribed-to creators on the platform. He started creating videos in 2012 and has expanded into excessive stunts and sometimes-controversial philanthropic endeavors. His “philanthropic” videos include one in which he paid for and filmed cataract surgeries for 1,000 people; three months later he published a similar style of video titled “1,000 Deaf People Hear For The First Time.” He also makes a lot of survival competition content, almost always with large cash prizes. In his most popular YouTube video, which has been viewed more than 470 million times, he held a $456,000 re-creation of Netflix’s Squid Game.
He’s since expanded into other businesses, like MrBeast Burger and a snack brand called Feastables. Donaldson has also invested, through Beast Investments, in gaming accessory company Backbone.
Why is MrBeast suing Virtual Dining Concepts?
Virtual Dining Concepts is the company that takes care of operations for MrBeast Burger. It has thousands of virtual restaurants — restaurants that don’t have physical spaces for people to dine in, but rather operate more like a delivery service. Typically, these use existing restaurant kitchens, whose staff cook and send out orders. Beyond MrBeast Burger, Virtual Dining Concepts is responsible for Buddy V’s Cake Slice, based off Carlos Bakery; Mariah’s Cookies, tied to Mariah Carey; and The Real HouseBowls, licensed from Bravo’s The Real Housewives.
Donaldson is suing Virtual Dining Concepts because the company was more concerned with “rapidly expanding” the business as a way to attract new clients, rather than with putting out good products, according to the complaint. The lawsuit reads: “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 ordered items, and in some instances, were inedible.”
In the 16-page complaint, Donaldson’s lawyers outlined several examples of bad food and reviews. MrBeast Burger has allegedly made Virtual Dining Concepts “millions of dollars,” none of which Donaldson has received, the lawsuit says. He’s looking to get out of the deal and get paid damages for the issues.
Why is Virtual Dining Concepts suing back?
Virtual Dining Concepts, in a statement to Variety, called the lawsuit “meritless,” then filed its own. Variety reports that the company is seeking upward of $100 million in damages for Donaldson’s alleged contract violations and interference with the business’s success. The company says Donaldson has intentionally damaged the reputation of MrBeast Burger and lost the company money and business relationships. It also said that Donaldson didn’t meet his contractual obligations for promotion and publicly supporting the MrBeast Burger brand, citing “disparaging comments” made about the company.
“This case is about a social media celebrity who believes his fame means that his word does not matter, that the facts do not matter, and that he can renege and breach his contractual obligations without consequence,” the lawsuit states. “He is mistaken.”
The 26-page complaint cites several tweets that Donaldson made over the past few months. “If I had the ability to close it, I would have done so a long time ago sadly,” he said in a tweet cited by the lawsuit. “Sometimes when ur young you sign shit deal.”