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Restauranteurs praise YouTube’s MrBeast for helping them survive the pandemic through his Virtual Dining Concept – MrBeast Burger

By Caitlyn Becker for the DailyMail.  March 31, 2023

United States, 14th Apr 2023 – MrBeast (aka YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson) has quietly been supporting the restaurant industry as it recovers from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic through his virtual dining concept. DailyMail.com exclusively spoke with three restaurant owners in different areas of the US who signed on with MrBeast Burger during the pandemic and were floored at  the immense and immediate success of the partnership.

‘We get orders all day long,’ one restaurateur in North Dakota said of operating a MrBeast Burger. ‘It still blows my mind.’ The virtual space, which launched in December 2020, is a delivery platform serving up MrBeast’s signature menu of burgers and fries, and operates out of already existing restaurant kitchens in partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts.

‘We were looking for ways to increase sales. So I took a shot in the dark and signed up with MrBeast,’ Dale Zimmerman told DailyMail.com. ‘I just thought it was a really cool name for a burger.’

                         'It immediately just blew up. If you start any kind of virtual kitchen, you really got to give yourself like a 6 to 12 week kind of cushion,' Jonathan Donnelly explained. 'When any of his social media stuff or any specials were run you could immediately see it.'

Zimmerman owns and operates Peacock Alley, located in Bismarck, North Dakota, which is the oldest restaurant and bar in the state. Through his MrBeast brand, Jimmy Donaldson, a 24-year-old philanthropist, has become one of the most popular YouTube and social media stars in the world with 139M YouTube subscribers.

Still, his target demo is much younger than the three business owners DailyMail.com spoke to and none of them had even heard of the digital prodigy who would end up helping their restaurants succeed. Jonathan Donnelly, the owner of Lucky’s Sandwich Co in Chicago, Illinois, was working virtual kitchens out of his business since before the pandemic. When stay at home orders shut down the country, he was operating 20 virtual kitchens at one time just to pay his staff and rent.

In neighboring Bowling Green, Ohio, Scott Daily and his wife purchased their restaurant, BG Burgers, ‘hours’ before the President would effectively shut down the entire country for COVID-19. A year later Daily partnered with MrBeast and noticed an instantaneous difference. ‘It was a godsend,’ Daily said. ‘It’s crazy how much more business we got.

Coast to coast, the restaurant industry was turned upside down and, while it is tough to quantify, the National Restaurant Association estimated in 2021 that 90,000 eateries shut down because of coronavirus. Enter MrBeast Burger. Donnelly described operating the virtual kitchen almost like operating a franchise. There is no dine-in so MrBeast fans order from a very simple menu via an app and off it goes for delivery, all while the brick and mortar spot can function as usual.

That means orders from MrBeast Burger help infuse much needed cash into independent restaurants who were particularly hit hard by the pandemic. ‘It immediately just blew up. If you start any kind of virtual kitchen, you really got to give yourself like a 6 to 12 week kind of cushion,’ Donnelly explained. ‘When any of his social media stuff or any specials were run you could immediately see it.’

‘It really took off and I’ve never had a virtual kitchen that’s done as much as this one,’ he continued, adding that he is now only operating about 5 down from 20. ‘I just took the best of the best.’ ‘It immediately just blew up. If you start any kind of virtual kitchen, you really got to give yourself like a 6 to 12 week kind of cushion,’ Donnelly explained. ‘When any of his social media stuff or any specials were run you could immediately see it.’ It was also an easy menu to execute for Scott Daily whose restaurant is also a burger joint so he was already ordering and using most of the ingredients. The experiences of all three restaurant owners were echoes of one another: none of them could believe how quickly and consistently the MrBeast Burgers were flying out the door.

‘I have no idea who MrBeast is,’ Zimmerman recalls thinking at the time ‘So, we signed up and it went like. Bonkers. I couldn’t believe it.’ ‘We’d have like little kids, like seven, eight years old [who] would come in with their grandparents and they’d be like, “Is this where MrBeast Burgers are made?”‘

In fact, Scott Daily said he’s even seen kids waiting to get their MrBeast Burgers break down into actual tears when they finally got their meal. ‘MrBeast is a great guy and he doesn’t need to get involved in the restaurant business, you know? He’s already made his fortune,’ Daily added. ‘[He] gives people like myself, you know, struggling restaurant owners, he gives us kind of, a-in-a-way to take advantage of his good name and good brand and it helps us.’

Shortly after it was launched in 2020, the MrBeast Burger app was the most downloaded on iTunes and Google Play and became one of the top five most popular Google searches. Robbie Earl, President of Virtual Dining Concepts said, ‘It’s amazing what a big business we have been able to build together with Jimmy. He is a force!’

When the first brick and mortar Beast Burger opened at the American Dream mall in New Jersey, 20,000 fans showed up and slept overnight just to get a peek at him. To date, the concept has dished up 10 million sandwiches and, according to MrBeast, his delivery platform is on target to have 2,280 live locations by the end of this year and with plans for even more international locations in 2024 and 2025.

By Caitlyn Becker for the DailyMail.  March 31, 2023

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