First Nextbite was sold to SBE CEO Sam Nazarian — who heads the parent company of (former) competitor and fellow virtual restaurant company group, C3. Now it looks like Virtual Dining Concepts’ prized virtual brand centerpiece, MrBeast Burger, might be parting ways with its namesake.
In a series of now-deleted tweets, Jimmy Donaldson, aka the YouTuber, MrBeast, announced that he is “moving on from MrBeast Burger” to concentrate on his series of CPG snacks, Feastables. Donaldson said that the major reason for moving on from the virtual brand with 2,000+ locations is lack of quality control. This directly aligns with the many negative reviews MrBeast Burger has received online, complaining that the food quality and delivery experience is subpar.
A Twitter follower asked in a follow-up question if MrBeast Burger will be eventually retired as a brand and Donaldson seemed to imply that it will continue on without him saying that “the company I partnered with won’t let me stop” and that the partnership has been bad for his brand. Virtual Dining Concepts did not respond to a request for comment, and Donaldson has not tweeted about the topic since the original tweets were deleted.
Ironically, when talking about the virtual dining industry, former Nextbite employees and foodservice tech experts upheld MrBeast Burger as an example of one of the few successful celebrity-backed virtual restaurant brands, as so many others have failed or fallen by the wayside. At the time, Virtual Dining Concepts said that while they were able to “tick all of the boxes of reasons why people keep coming back,” the “longevity of a brand” had not yet been defined.
According to MrBeast, aka Jimmy Donaldson, MrBeast Burger made $100 million in revenue from its inception in December 2020 until July 2022, which worked out to (at the time) $1 per subscriber to his YouTube channel.
“$100 million is a great number, but that number should have been $2 billion,” Kirk Mauriello, founder/CEO of virtual restaurant company, Profit Cookers, said in a previous interview. “If every one of your followers bought just one time, then that’s $2 billion….it’s all relative to how you look at the numbers and the industry. Was it successful? Objectively, yes. But is it a brand that will last forever? I don’t know.”
Could Donaldson seemingly stepping away from MrBeast Burger be a nail in the coffin for celebrity-backed virtual restaurant brands? It certainly seems like the era of delivery-only food experiences that use influencers as marketing gimmicks might be coming to an end. While this does not necessarily signal alarm bells for the virtual dining industry in general, it should be a warning that customers will only withstand gimmicks for so long. In the end, delivery-only restaurants have the same goal as old-fashioned brick and mortar restaurants: to feed people great food that keeps them coming back for more.
Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]