Why Some Fans Find MrBeast Burger Misleading

On December 19, 2020, MrBeast, a YouTube celebrity, announced the launch of his brand MrBeast Burger. "I just launched 300 restaurants nationwide!" he wrote on Twitter. "Just go on your favorite delivery app and order a MrBeast Burger! WE'VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS FOR FOREVER AND IM SO EXCITED!"

Some may quibble, however, with the phrasing used, specifically the idea that MrBeast launched 300 restaurants. The issue folks may have is that strictly speaking, MrBeast didn't actually launch any restaurants, but roped pre-existing restaurants into cooking for the MrBeast Burger brand as a ghost kitchen.

Ghost kitchens, as Grub Street describes them in a withering article, are kitchens that produce food to be delivered elsewhere. Simply put, they're delivery only "restaurant" kitchens. The scare quotation marks are needed because Rachel Sugar, author of the Grub Street piece, points out that these enterprises are not restaurants, but food-logistic operations that offer a completely different experience than ordering food of some kind from an app.

MrBeast Burger is a ghost franchise

MrBeast Burger expands the concept of a ghost kitchen to what The New York Times called a "ghost franchise." The difference is that restaurants across the country are disappearing behind the MrBeast Burger brand to create burgers. For example, in Utah, your burger may come from Bucca di Beppo. In Manhattan, Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails.

The article further explains that this changes the traditional restaurant kitchen into a food preparation space for multiple brands simultaneously. During an industry-wrecking pandemic, this offers a bit of a lifeline to restaurants as they may receive more orders if they front themselves as a recognizable brand while skipping the phases of redesigning a menu and adulterating their pre-lockdown identity. 

In essence, though, the ghost franchise differs from the standard franchise model (used by chains like McDonald's or Chik-fil-A) only in that McDonald's would have high stakes at play in investing in a new location, while MrBeast Burger exists as a loose contract between a restaurant that will follow its recipes and a YouTube celebrity who could replace them with a phone call.