The legal battle between Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson and Virtual Dining Concepts (VDC) is heating up. The latter entity has responded to a lawsuit filed by Donaldson by characterizing the YouTube star’s claims as “ill-advised and meritless.”
Donaldson, whose work on the MrBeast channel has made him YouTube’s most-subscribed individual creator, filed a complaint against VDC in the Southern District of New York. The plaintiff and defendant in the case are business partners; in 2020, they teamed up to launch MrBeast Burger, which became one of the first successful “ghost kitchens” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At first, the partnership was mutually beneficial, and MrBeast Burger underwent rapid expansion. But as the brand swelled to include more than 1,000 virtual locations, the quality of the food went downhill, according to allegations in Donaldson’s complaint. The man who lent his name to MrBeast Burger is now seeking a court order in hopes of terminating his contract with VDC and shutting down his namesake chain.
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In a response to Donaldson, lawyers representing VDC claimed the creator’s complaint is “riddled with false statements and inaccuracies.” The VDC team is characterizing the legal action as a “thinly-veiled attempt to distract from Mr. Donaldson’s and Beast Investments’ breaches of the agreements between the parties, including Mr. Donaldson’s recent false, disparaging statements regarding the MrBeast Burger brand and VDC.”
The line about “disparaging statements” cites a June 2023 article from National Restaurant News, which references some of Donaldson’s social posts. In a series of since-deleted tweets, Donaldson said that VDC “won’t let me stop” pursuing MrBeast Burger. He described the fast food venture as “terrible for my brand.”
To the contrary, VDC’s response states that MrBeast Burger has boosted Donaldson’s “notoriety.” To back up that point, VDC’s lawyers cite a recent CNN article that details Donaldson’s “staggering success.”
Per the response, Donaldson isn’t trying to shut down MrBeast Burger because of the reasons stated in his complaint. “To the detriment of approximately ten million happy MrBeast Burger customers, hundreds of restaurants, and their thousands of employees who make MrBeast Burger products daily, Mr. Donaldson recently attempted to negotiate a new deal to serve his own monetary interests,” wrote VDC’s lawyers. “When VDC refused to accede to his bullying tactics to give up more of the company to him, he filed this ill-advised and meritless lawsuit seeking to undermine the MrBeast Burger brand and terminate his existing contractual obligations without cause.”
The pointed nature of VDC’s response suggests that both sides are ready to dig in for legal proceedings. The fate of that court battle could hinge on the quality of VDC’s properties. The Florida-based company has also partnered with internet-famous brands like FaZe Clan, LankyBox, and Larray.
The reviews for VDC ventures seem to vary based on location. For the VDC-operated, podcast-inspired sandwich chain Pardon My Cheesesteak, many delivery points have earned positive reviews, but others are less beloved.
The VDC response to Donaldson argues that the negative feedback shared in the original complaint represents “a very small minority of MrBeast Burger customers.” When the case heads to court, VDC believes Donaldson “will face the consequences.” Until then, MrBeast Burger will continue to operate as usual.
[UPDATE 8/7: Virtual Dining Concepts has filed a countersuit against Donaldson. The complaint accuses Donaldson of “tortious interference” and alleges that he shirked his contractual obligations to the MrBeast Burger brand. VDC is seeking up to $100 million in damages. In the meantime, the company still plans to continue “business as usual” for MrBeast Burger.]