YouTuber MrBeast is suing the ghost kitchen behind MrBeast Burger to stop production of its popular burger, claiming the company is taking advantage of his brand to expand rather than focusing on the quality of the food.
The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court in the Southern District of New York on Monday.
“Because Virtual Dining Concepts was more focused on rapidly expanding the business as a way to pitch the virtual restaurant model to other celebrities for its own benefit, it was not focused on controlling the quality of the MrBeast Burger customer experience and products,” the lawsuit stated.
MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, contracted Virtual Dining Concepts, based in Orlando, Florida, to launch the MrBeast Burger concept in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. The business goal of working with a ghost kitchen was “simple,” the lawsuit said. The partnership would create a virtual restaurant with MrBeast-branded food and would work with existing restaurants that would prepare the meals and share a “significant” part of the revenue. The items could be ordered through food delivery services, eliminating the need for brick-and-mortar table service.
Adam Friedlander/The New York Times/Redux/File
The MrBeast burger, of the virtual food delivery chain driven by YouTube celebrity Jimmy Donaldson, in New York, Feb. 24, 2021.
The lack of quality quickly became apparent, the lawsuit said, materially and irreparably harming the MrBeast brand and reputation. Because of that harm, the lawsuit claims Donaldson has the right to end the breached contract and shut down the MrBeast burger business.
Beast Investments is asking for a jury trial, royalties it says it’s owed and an “accounting of all revenues and expenses of the MrBeast Burger business,” and for VDC to stop from further using the MrBeast brand, MrBeast’s likeness, name, image and intellectual property rights.
In a statement, VDC said the complaint was filled with “inaccuracies” and that the lawsuit was in retaliation for the company not agreeing to a new deal with Donaldson. The company said it is filing its own claims against him.
“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,” the statement said.
Donaldson has 172 million subscribers — more than any other individual creator on the platform, YouTube said. He’s built his empire by staging increasingly expensive and eye-popping stunts, along with generous cash giveaways and acts of philanthropy – such as bankrolling cataract surgeries for hundreds of blind people to help them see again.
Some of the reviews of the burger, according to the lawsuit: “disgusting,” “revolting,” and even “inedible.”
Donaldson claimed in the suit that more than half of the MrBeast Burger virtual restaurants have reviews of fewer than two out of five stars. For example, MrBeast Burger in New York has 2.1 stars on Yelp. The burger brand has expanded to hundreds of locations globally. Many customers are blaming the MrBeast brand for the bad burgers, the lawsuit alleged.
The suit alleges VDC registered numerous trademarks with the MrBeast brand in different countries throughout the European Union Canada, Thailand, Singapore, Mexico and Malaysia without Donaldson’s knowledge or permission.
“Because the entire business is based on the tremendous global value of the MrBeast brand, it is MrBeast himself, and not Virtual Dining Concepts, who has borne the brunt of the (justified) attacks and criticisms,” the lawsuit said.
And “while this business has made millions of dollars, MrBeast has not received a dime,” the lawsuit alleged.
The lawsuit said Beast Investments did give VDC the right to use his name, images and likeness.
“Because MrBeast has spent years developing his brand into one of the most valuable in the world,” the lawsuit said, “it was an essential component of their deal that MrBeast retain strict control over the use of his name, image, likeness, and brand by the MrBeast Burger business.”
Donaldson claimed VDC immediately capitalized on MrBeast Burger’s initial success (Donaldson’s video documenting the launch, “I Opened A Restaurant That Pays You To Eat At It,” has over 160 million views on YouTube).
In 2022, a physical MrBeast Burger opened at the American Dream mall in New Jersey, sending fans swarming the store on its debut.
The lawsuit claimed Donaldson himself raised concerns over the quality of the burgers. In a June tweet, Donaldson said he enjoys running Feastables, his snacks line, “100X more” than burgers.
“…(T)he problem with Beast Burger is i can’t guarantee the quality of the order,” he tweeted. “When working with other restaurants it’s impossible to control it sadly.”