YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson, known to his 172 million subscribers as MrBeast, filed a lawsuit on Monday against his food delivery service partner, Virtual Dining Concepts, claiming the company damaged his reputation by serving customers “low quality” and, at times, “inedible” food.
Donaldson, famous for his expensive stunts and viral charity projects, partnered with the Florida-based “virtual dining” brand to launch MrBeast Burger, which in December 2020 began selling branded burger-and-fries combos through restaurants and commercial kitchens across the U.S. Customers order through major food delivery service apps or via the MrBeastBurger website, which states menu items are available “for restaurants to prepare out of their existing kitchens as a way to generate a new revenue stream.’
But Donaldson, who in November became the most-followed individual YouTuber, is now seeking to end his agreement with Virtual Dining Concepts, citing a lack of quality control and noting that his complaints “fell on deaf ears.”
A spokesperson for Virtual Dining Concepts did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday. A representative for Donaldson declined to comment.
The “goal of the business,” according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. Southern District of New York, “was simple: relying entirely on the strength of MrBeast’s brand, the business would create a virtual restaurant with a selection of MrBeast-branded food items, but would then partner with existing restaurants who would prepare those items and share in a significant portion of the revenue from their sales.”
However, the lawsuit claims, “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.”
Customers received orders that were “delivered late, in unbranded packaging, fail to include the ordered items, and in some instances, were inedible,” the lawsuit states.
Attorneys for the YouTuber submitted examples of thousands of reactions online about the food, including screenshots and links to YouTube reviews as well as viral images of customers saying they were served raw meat. In some complaints made by consumers, MrBeast was blamed for the poor service.
“Customers have referred to the burgers as being ‘disgusting,’ ‘revolting,’ and ‘inedible.’ They have claimed that ‘it is sad that MrBeast would put his name on this,’ ‘MrBeast is being cancelled over burgers;’ ‘never had something so nasty;’ ‘inaccurate marketing;’ ‘Orlando’s worst burger;’ ‘big name, poor food;’ ‘very upsetting for the high price;’ and ‘likely the worst burger I have ever had,” the complaint states.
The suit also claims that the images of Donaldson are being used without permission and that Virtual Dining Concepts registered MrBeast-related trademarks they were not allowed to register.
As of Monday afternoon, MrBeast Burger, as well as imagery of Donaldson, was still featured on Virtual Dining Concepts’ website.
“Virtual Dining Concepts repeatedly denied MrBeast his valuable approval rights by posting his name, image, and brand on social media and elsewhere without first obtaining his written approval and consent,” the lawsuit claims. “Further, in violation of their agreements and trademark law, Virtual Dining Concepts registered various trademarks throughout the world using MrBeast’s name and brand, without any right to do so and without his consent or knowledge (and they listed themselves as the sole owners of the trademarks).”
The news of the lawsuit, which was first reported by Bloomberg, comes as ‘ghost kitchens’ see a boom on food delivery apps. The celebrity “ghost restaurant” has been a particularly fruitful market. Virtual Dining Concepts lists Mariah Carey’s “Mariah’s Cookies,” Bravo’s “The Real HouseBowls,” and baker Buddy V’s “Cake Slice” as some of its other ventures.
Despite the negative reviews, MrBeast Burger generated “millions of dollars,” according to the lawsuit. However, “MrBeast has not received a dime,” the lawsuit states.
MrBeast has generated backlash before, including for his snack brand Feastables, but he said in a tweet that he enjoys “Feastables 100x more” than MrBeast Burger.
On June 16, when a fan asked in a tweet “Is @MrBeastBurger done?” Donaldson himself replied.
“Yeah, the problem with Beast Burger is i can’t guarantee the quality of the order,” Donaldson tweeted. “When working with other restaurants it’s impossible to control it sadly And tbh I just enjoy Feastables 100x more. Making snacks is awesome and something I’m way more passionate about.”
The complaint claims that because of the poor customer service experience and poor quality of the items served at MrBeast Burger, “MrBeast’s reputation and brand has, indeed, been materially and irreparably harmed.”