A Beastly Battle Over Branded Burgers
MrBeast is kind of a big deal. His staggering 174 million subscribers make him the most-subscribed creator on YouTube. His videos regularly rack up tens of millions of views within days of posting. He gives away millions of dollars to charities and viewers with staggering frequency — and he's still estimated to be worth some $500 million. People above the legal drinking age may not understand why or how MrBeast became so popular, but we aren't here to complain about YouTube or lament the corruption of our children's minds.
We're here to talk about burgers.
MrBeast . . . Burger?
Though it's far from the strangest celebrity product line (Shaq Fu, anyone?), it's anybody's guess why MrBeast decided to take his online stardom and turn it into a fast food franchise. MrBeast Burger's first temporary location opened in a redecorated Burger Boy restaurant on November 10, 2020, attracting thousands of customers and a line that reportedly stretched up to 20 miles long. The YouTuber's new business contracted with some 300 virtual dining locations across the U.S., then proceeded to expand to Canada, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Mexico in the following years.
The Nature of the Experiment
MrBeast Burger wasn't set up to be a traditional brick and mortar fast food franchise. Instead, the concept was envisioned as a virtual delivery-only restaurant operating via a set of ghost kitchens in different locations. To accomplish this, MrBeast contracted with a Florida-based and aptly named company called Virtual Dining Concepts.
Virtual Dining Concepts (VDC) claims to "offer traditional restaurant owners a low risk, all in one solution to launch a profitable delivery-only concept in their existing concept operations, with zero upfront fees." Their website also boasts of their celebrity partnerships with Mariah Carey, Mario Lopez, and DJ Pauly D (one of these things is not like the others). In addition to the relatively sparse details, listing of only four major employees, and fairly short list of successful brands, VDC's website has one other strange bit of information that's worth noting: the first name in their list of proven branded concepts.
Complaints About Food Quality Abound
MrBeast Burger's name and logo are conspicuously displayed in several places on VDC's website and marketing materials. This wouldn't be strange — after all, it's a big get for them — IF the two companies weren't currently suing the pants off of one another.
The suits can be boiled down to a couple of succinct sentences. MrBeast wants to shut down MrBeast Burgers. VDC doesn't.
The nature of the contracts involved are private, but MrBeast contends that VDC is causing material harm to his brand by serving subpar food under his name. His lawsuit alleges that VDC has failed to ameliorate the significant quality control issues reported by customers of MrBeast Burgers, denied him approval rights by posting his name, image, and brand on social media without obtaining written approval, and not paid MrBeast what he is owed in spite of the millions of dollars' worth of food they've sold using his name.
The quality control issues in question run the gamut from poor preparation, serving of under or overcooked meat, the use of moldy buns, and other well-documented complaints from customers at numerous locations. The issues are so widespread that half of the MrBeast Burger virtual restaurants have less than two out of five stars, thousands of negative reviews, and innumerable tweets, videos, and emails complaining about the quality of the food.
VDC's lawsuit contends that MrBeast is just trying to weasel out of their contract, which would cause them significant financial harm. Lawyers for the firm claim that MrBeast's lawsuit is predicated on falsehoods, bullying tactics, and thinly veiled attempts to breach their contract.
An Uphill Battle Over Bad Burgers
VDC will have to overcome the negative reviews and photographic evidence of bad and potentially unsafe food to win the jury's sympathy if it goes to trial. Their main argument is that they had a deal with MrBeast, fulfilled their end of the bargain, and that he's obligated to follow through with the contract.
MrBeast, on the other hand, argues he has a significant amount of material evidence supporting his claims that VDC has violated the contract by failing to deliver on their promises in a satisfactory manner.
At its core, the case comes down to performance, like all lawsuits alleging a breach of contract. Did VDC fail to live up to its end of the bargain? Perhaps a jury will decide. If that's the case, it begs the question of where they'll order their lunch from.
- Are "Ghost Kitchens" Legal? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life blog)
- How to Open a Restaurant (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Does a Social Media Influencer Need an LLC?(FindLaw's Law and Daily Life blog)
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