September 23, 2022

YouTuber MrBeast’s burgers land at New Paltz

What’s for dinner can be a triggering question for some parents (ok, most). But this week, Gayle Bowe hit the jackpot. Her children, Henry, 11, and Gracie, 9, couldn’t be happier with the super surprise their mum ordered for Sunday dinner.

She recently discovered that MrBeast Burger had arrived in New Paltz. Savvy parents of kids obsessed with the YouTuber rejoiced, including Bowe.

For the uninitiated, MrBeast is a huge deal. The YouTuber known for his prank videos and also his philanthropy — he once bought a homeless man a house — earned him $54 million in 2021, the most of any YouTuber of all time. And the man behind the account with more than 91 million subscribers, Jimmy Donaldson, is only 23 years old.

He also knows how to monetize. What good is all this weight on social networks if not to earn more money? One of its most ingenious efforts is MrBeast Burger, which contracts with existing burger restaurants to act as “ghost kitchens” — places where food is prepared but not necessarily served. In MrBeast’s case, these commercial kitchens make and sell its branded meals, part of a growing trend of virtual franchises that has developed during the pandemic. Typically, a restaurant earns a percentage of franchise sales, but pays no delivery application fees. MrBeast collects the remaining profit.

MrBeast Burger’s operations have grown from 300 locations in the United States in 2021 to approximately 1,600 currently. (And in true MrBeast fashion, he both gave away the burgers and paid people to eat there to begin with.) In New Paltz, MrBeast’s ghost kitchen serving joint is Smash Shack, a relatively new addition to the restaurant scene in the city, having opened in February.

Orders are placed through the MrBeast Burger app or a third-party service like DoorDash, where you can request delivery or pickup. When ordering through DoorDash from the New Paltz site, it looks like MrBeast Burger is a standalone restaurant, but take a closer look: it has the same address as Smash Shack — 255 Main Street.

“We’re two restaurants in one,” says Smash Shack Executive Chef Skyler Youngs.

For a while now, local MrBeast fans heard about MrBeast Burger on YouTube, but had no way to order. “There was a huge need in the area and a huge demand,” says Youngs.

As of March 3, Smash Shack is one of the few hamburger restaurants in the Hudson Valley to offer MrBeast’s menu in addition to its own. There are two ghost kitchens nearby in Poughkeepsie: one operating out of Spins Bowl Poughkeepsie, another out of a Red Robin.

The New Paltz location appeared because Smash Shack owner Nick Woerner has a 14-year-old MrBeast fan. “It went from there,” says Youngs.

The Bowe kids don’t watch much TV, but they love watching YouTube. There are only a handful of YouTubers she approves of. “MrBeast, as far as I know, is a young man in his twenties – one of the richest men in the world at this point. He does great stunts and is a philanthropist – he gives a lot of money to charities charities.

Don’t ask Bowe what types of stunts; she doesn’t know exactly. She has a vague feeling that they are large-scale, expensive, and her kids are cracking up together when they watch the videos, which is priceless. “I know it’s clean. There’s no swearing or inappropriate stuff.

(For the curious, some of the stunts involve MrBeast spending quite a bit of time buried alive. Also, he offers money to people willing to do gross things like playing hide-and-seek in the trash, etc. Videos of these efforts are uploaded frequently and have garnered over 10 billion views.)

An easy gig for small restaurants

For Smash Shack, the process of becoming a MrBeast Burger ghost kitchen was simple. “You contact the company and get everything we need to do the ghost kitchen – the extra ingredients,” says Youngs. MrBeast has a different menu and packaging from Smash Shack.

“I am surprised at the success achieved in a very short time,” says Woerner. “I think we processed about 130 MrBeast orders in about a week.”

Woerner, who also owns Mexican Kitchen in the village, specifically opened Smash Shack with the MrBeast concept in mind. “Virtual dining is a way for small businesses to generate additional revenue without marketing costs,” he says. Soon, Woerner will introduce another virtual dining concept to Smash Shack, Buddy V’s Cake Slice – “It’s the world famous Cake Boss”.

The price between the two restaurants with shared kitchen is similar. A melted MrBeast patty served “Karl-style” (Karl is a MrBeast character) with a beef patty, caramelized onions and cheese on a toasted bun costs $8.49. A single Smash Shack burger is only $7, with free extra sautéed onions and extra cheese costing an extra dollar.

You don’t have to be a MrBeast fan to order. In fact, for some, it’s just a burger. Bowe’s husband works in Westchester where he once ordered MrBeast for lunch. He recognized the packaging when he arrived at their New Paltz home and said, “Oh, we got it one day.”

For the Bowe kids who know and love MrBeast, getting the social media stunt burgers was a real treat.

“They loved the boxes it came in, they loved the logo and the food itself was really good. The sandwiches were named after the crew of MrBeast,” Bowe reports. As a family, they sampled the burger, chicken sandwich and chocolate chip cookies – the only sweet option, which was “tasty but just average”.

The Bowes will order MrBeast Burger again; their children have already asked for it. “They were talking about it with friends yesterday. One of the other families had it too. There’s a little buzz about it in the 8-12 arena.

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