YouTube personality James Donaldson, better known by his 176 million subscribers as MrBeast, has found himself amidst a massive lawsuit this summer.
Three years ago in late 2020, branching off from viral videos such as “I Spent 50 Hours Buried Alive”, Donaldson made his way into the fast food industry with his virtual restaurant MrBeast Burger.
His burgers could be found nationwide on mobile food apps like GrubHub and DoorDash, and soon his fans, as well as online personalities with substantial followings, began buying and reviewing his product.
Credit: Manchester Evening News
Besides general comments surrounding the messy presentation, unbranded packaging, and bland food, other reviews were more serious. All over social media, customers began posting pictures of undercooked or completely raw burgers. This, of course, poses a serious health risk, as eating raw/undercooked meat can cause food poisoning, among other things.
People were rightfully angry with Donaldson for putting his fans at risk. But he wasn’t the one making the food, who was truly responsible for this?
Well, for this endeavor Donaldson had partnered with a company called Virtual Dining Concepts (VDC), an established ghost kitchen that provided the food for several different virtual restaurants. If you are unfamiliar, ghost kitchens are often unlabeled warehouses that cook and serve food under many different virtual restaurant names. Essentially, ten different virtual restaurants that one may find on mobile food ordering apps like UberEats could all come out of the same ghost kitchen. In fact, some established restaurants like Red Robin also act as ghost kitchens for these mobile meal providers.
By partnering with VDC, Donaldson could provide his food all over the country without having to deal with the management of a physical, sit down restaurant. However, every ghost kitchen operates and makes food differently, which meant that state to state, or even city to city, MrBeast burgers were being made differently, which explains why some fans had rave reviews for the food while others were served lackluster excuses for a burger.
Flash forward to today, after years of complaints and a clear lack of quality control, Donaldson decided to sue VDC for serving inedible food and damaging his reputation. With the lawsuit, Donaldson also hoped to end his partnership with the brand for good.
However, VDC is now countersuing Donaldson for failing to honor his contractual obligations and for tarnishing their reputation– arguing that his statements have turned away potential customers and damaged relationships with their vendors.
Although Donaldson has claimed he “hasn’t received a dime” from the partnership, VDC has now claimed similar damages, accusing Donaldson of causing damages up to $100 million.
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