Virtual superstar MrBeast meets restaurant reality
You have to master the food *and* the algorithm
In a series of now-deleted tweets over the weekend, Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, said that he’s stepping away from his virtual restaurant brand, MrBeast Burger.
By many accounts, the brand was a huge hit. It launched in December 2020 with 300 locations, and in the years since has grown to include about 2,000. Donaldson has an online audience of millions, with 161 million YouTube subscribers clearly ready to support his endeavors. Just last week on a podcast tied to a piece he wrote for the New York Times Magazine, journalist Max Read described MrBeast Burger as “one of his most successful endeavors right now.”
The praise is ill-timed, but Read’s coverage makes Donaldson’s interest in growing his reach, his brand, and his influence very clear.
On the podcast, Read offered his take on why a powerful online figure might be interested in an online restaurant empire: Consider that Donaldson spent years obsessing over YouTube success, tweaking videos and thumbnails to master the platform and rise to the top. Perhaps, Read said, Donaldson’s motivation is a desire to master the algorithm on apps like DoorDash in the same way. It’s just another online marketplace, right?
Except, as we’ve learned, salad doesn’t scale like software. Or in this case, Beast Burgers don’t scale like viral videos — even with the best of intentions.
Donaldson cites food quality issues in the deleted tweets announcing his attention to bail on the brand.
“I started MrBeast Burger to help restaurants make more $ during the pandemic, and it worked!” he wrote. “But sadly when working with 2,000 restaurants I don’t own it’s impossible to guarantee the order quality.”
In a subsequent tweet, he added that he wanted to retire the brand, “but the company I partnered with won’t let me stop… Young beast signed a bad deal.”
MrBeast Burger is operated in partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts.
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