YouTube star MrBeast on Saturday tweeted that he is “moving on” from MrBeast Burger, the delivery-only restaurant brand he helped create in partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts.
In the now-deleted tweet, MrBeast, aka Jimmy Donaldson, wrote that it had become impossible to guarantee the quality of the brand across the 2,000 different restaurants that are selling it. He also said he wanted to focus more on his snack brand, Feastables.
The tweet casts uncertainty on the future of MrBeast Burger, one of the most popular concepts to emerge from the virtual brand wave of 2020 and 2021.
In a second tweet that was also deleted, Donaldson wrote that he wanted to shut down MrBeast Burger, “but the company I partnered with won’t let me stop even though it’s terrible for my brand.
“Young Beast signed a bad deal.”
Virtual Dining Concepts did not respond to a request for comment.
MrBeast Burger launched in late 2020 and quickly went viral thanks to MrBeast’s tens of millions of online followers. It opened in 300 locations in its first week and vaulted to the top of the mobile app charts for Apple and Google. It’s now in about 2,000 locations globally and has one physical location at the American Dream Mall in New Jersey.
Its success made it the crown jewel of Virtual Dining Concepts, which owns other celebrity-backed virtual brands such as Pardon My Cheesesteak, Mariah's Cookies and Robert Irvine's American Classics. The company was co-founded by restaurateur Robert Earl, his son Robbie Earl and Trish Giordano.
As a virtual brand, MrBeast Burger is distributed by many different restaurants that are licensed to cook and sell its food for delivery or pickup only. The idea is that the restaurants can use the additional online storefront to generate extra revenue. This setup allowed MrBeast Burger to grow quickly but has apparently resulted in inconsistent food.
Quality control is one of a few problems virtual brands have faced since they began to catch on during the early days of the pandemic. Customers have complained that they feel tricked by the brands, which appear as stand-alone storefronts on delivery apps but are really coming from the kitchens of other restaurants. The brands can also add complexity to restaurants that are already busy. Meanwhile, consumer demand for delivery has started to slow down, which has hurt sales for such concepts.
Nextbite, one of the leading providers of delivery-only concepts, sold itself last week, about a month after laying off much of its staff. Donaldson's effort to cut ties with MrBeast Burger is another troubling sign for virtual brands.
Donaldson, who is known for both philanthropy and elaborate stunts, said the brand was created to help restaurants make more money during the pandemic. But he’s now more interested in Feastables, a line of packaged gummies, cookies and candy bars that are sold in stores.
“Making snacks is awesome and something I’m way more passionate about,” he wrote in a tweet that is still up.
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