As virtual restaurant companies tap influencers’ wide audiences to generate hype in the absence of physical touchpoints, blockbuster YouTuber MrBeast (162 million subscribers) appears to be turning away from the ghost kitchen space toward other food categories.
Over the weekend, a Twitter user pointed out that the account of MrBeast’s ghost kitchen brand MrBeast Burger had been inactive (and has since become a private account) and that the YouTuber had taken down a video promoting the restaurant, “I Opened A Restaurant That Pays You To Eat At It,” last month. MrBeast’s response suggests that his ghost kitchen days are behind him, at least for now, and that he is instead focusing on his snacks brand, Feastables.
“Yeah, the problem with Beast Burger is [I] can’t guarantee the quality of the order. When working with other restaurants it’s impossible to control it sadly,” the YouTuber replied. “And tbh I just enjoy Feastables 100x more. Making snacks is awesome and something I’m way more passionate about.”
Additionally, in a deleted tweet highlighted by multiple media outlets — a tweet that a couple different Twitter users posted screenshots of — the YouTuber stated that he is “moving on” from the virtual restaurant brand to “focus on Feastables and making snacks.”
Plus, according to Restaurant Business, another deleted tweet from the influencer stated that, while he wanted to shut down the restaurant, “the company I partnered with won’t let me stop even though it’s terrible for my brand.”
Neither MrBeast Burger nor the ghost kitchen company behind it, Virtual Dining Concepts, immediately responded to PYMNTS’ request for comment. The MrBeast Burger website continues to be active and to accept orders.
Whether or not MrBeast is able to shut down the brand, his desire to pivot away from it suggests that the rapid emergence of influencer-helmed virtual kitchens over the last few years may be a bubble, soon to burst.
Certainly, for a while there, the getting was good. Olo founder and CEO Noah Glass told PYMNTS’ Karen Webster in an interview that MrBeast Burger was “a phenomenon,” noting that the restaurant’s app became the No. 1 app on Apple’s App Store for a time, and the restaurant has processed over 1 million orders. Now, however, it seems the tide has turned.
Notably, influencers continue to play a significant role in how a sizable share of U.S. consumers (nearly 1 in 5) discover restaurants. Research from the latest edition of PYMNTS’ exclusive Connected Dining report, “Connected Dining: Word of Mouth in the Digital Age,” which draws from a May survey of a census-balanced panel of more than 2,200 U.S. consumers, finds that that 18.3% of restaurant customers search for restaurant information by following influencers who review restaurants. Plus, and 20.2% do so by following content creators who review restaurants.
Yet for influencers, whose brand integrity is key to maintaining their consumers, it seems possible that there will be a turn towards more standardized branded products, such as, in MrBeast’s case, packaged snack foods. Given MrBeast’s disproportionate reach relative to other influencers, it seems likely that smaller creators may follow suit.