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Front Page - Friday, September 3, 2021

River City: A mysterious path to one Beast of a cheeseburger

The hunt for a good fast-food burger in Chattanooga often involves scanning the city’s streets for the ubiquitous golden arches, a king-sized Whopper or a freckle-faced redhead with ponytails.

But to find a great fast-food burger locally, the ravenous must dig deeper for an up-and-coming treasure known as MrBeast Burger.

If you drive along the only thoroughfare in Chattanooga to accommodate a MrBeast Burger – 12th Street – looking for a logo, or a name on a building, you’re going to roll right past and reach the end of the street.

I know this from personal experience. The person who informed me about MrBeast Burger said it’s located across from Dixie Produce, but all I saw was a nondescript brown building with no parking.

Feeling adventurous (OK, I was hungry, which makes me persistent), I parked, entered the building, and still didn’t see a burger joint. Instead, there was a small coffee shop and a long counter next to a sign for a business called Party Bites Kitchen+Catering.

As I was texting my source, a man walked in and pressed a button on the counter. Moments later, a woman wearing a black T-shirt sporting a giant cartoon burger popped through a door behind the counter carrying a yellow bag.

Only then did I know I’d dug up the mythical MrBeast Burger.

Later, while speaking with owner Antonio Tate, I learned I’d also stumbled upon a legendary Ghost Kitchen. (Cue dramatic music.)

OK, ghost kitchens aren’t legendary yet, but the pandemic has made them more prevalent.

Tate, a lifelong chef originally from Michigan, says a ghost kitchen is a restaurant with no dining area or other means of interacting with customers face-to-face. Instead, people order online or through an app, and their food is conveyed via Uber Eats, DoorDash or another meal delivery service.

The founder of MrBeast Burger – the popular YouTube personality, MrBeast – seized on the concept to simultaneously launch MrBeast Burger in 300 ghost kitchens in December, Tate says.

Eager to supplement Party Bites, Tate purchased a MrBeast franchise from Virtual Dining Concepts in February and launched it in his catering kitchen, which is located within Camp House – the nondescript brown building with no parking.

It’s coming together, isn’t it? But even after speaking with Tate, who emerged from his kitchen to talk with me, I still couldn’t grasp how a burger hidden in a ghost kitchen buried inside a brown building on an unremarkable street at the fringes of downtown Chattanooga could make him money.

He smiled and said, “It’s all about MrBeast.”

I’d never had to learn so many things about a burger. But Tate explained to this late-term baby boomer that MrBeast (aka Jimmy Donaldson) is a YouTuber who pioneered a genre of videos centered on attention grabbing charity stunts, such as opening a car showroom and giving away vehicles.

With 66.5 million subscribers to his YouTube channel and 12 billion total views, MrBeast is earning about $3 million a month, CelebrityNetWorth.com reports.

Entrepreneurs like Tate draw on MrBeast’s popularity to attract app-savvy customers to their burgers, fries and spicy chicken sandwiches.

They also rely on extensive social media marketing. The yellow bag I mentioned earlier, as well as the packaging for all their foodstuff, is plastered with social media icons.

These images are today’s golden arches, and they link to electronic pathways that stream bytes of data to smartphones and laptops, luring hungry patrons to order a meal that can be delivered to their door.

In the case of Chattanooga’s MrBeast Burger, it’s also drawing customers to the curb outside Camp House, as well as to the event space inside Camp House, where people who enjoy eating out (ask the nearest grown-up about this old school concept, kids) can sit at a table and munch away.

I was grateful for this because – as I mentioned – I was hungry.

In keeping with the virtual fast-food concept, MrBeast Burger’s menu seems to have been tailored to fit the screen of an iPhone or Android device. There are three kinds of burgers, the chicken sandwich I also mentioned earlier, a grilled cheese sandwich, seasoned crinkle fries and cookies – and that’s it.

In the spirit of keeping things simple, I ordered a burger “Beast style,” which comes with “smashed, crispy beef patties, house seasoning, sharp cheddar cheese, pickles, onions, mayo, ketchup and brown mustard on a soft roll,” the menu states.

Tate said I would like his fries, so I ordered some of those, as well.

So, while MrBeast was busy cooking up slick marketing schemes, did he forget to make a great burger?


At the far end of all the emerging concepts for ordering out is a juicy and absolutely delicious fast-food burger. For me, it was the crispy edges on the meat, the way the cheese melted between the patties, and the seasoning, which Tate says he makes in-house.

The fries come with the same seasoning, along with a dash of oregano, but that’s all Tate will say.

Tate might think his MrBeast Burger franchise is all about its famous namesake, and while that might be what initially draws some people to his food, I believe his flavors will bring them back.

While speaking with Tate, I couldn’t help but root for him. He says he started cooking in his father’s catering kitchen at age 13 and has spent the nearly three decades since then learning to cook “everything.”

Tate opened Party Bites in 2015 and was cruising along at a steady clip when COVID-19 changed “everything.” He says the best part of launching his ghost kitchen was hiring people who had lost their job due to the pandemic. (He currently employs a staff of 10.)

I’d like to say Tate’s energy is infectious, but the apparent wellspring of passion in him spills out in rapid fire sentences that take a moment to process. He’s either one of those entrepreneurs who measures life in “words per second,” or the warm and satisfying meal in my belly was causing me to listen slower.

If MrBeast Burger does take off in Chattanooga, don’t expect a ghost kitchen to pop up on every street corner, as Tate’s franchise gives him a wide berth from aspiring competitors – 10 square miles, to be exact.

Then again, Tate can open as many MrBeast Burgers within that footprint as he wants, or expand elsewhere in the city, so who knows which buildings his ghost kitchens will be haunting next?

Until then, call 423 708-5222 to connect with his staff, or download the MrBeast Burger app to your smart device to place an order. Tate’s kitchen is open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Or, if you happen to be driving along 12th Street, park, enter the nondescript brown building and enjoy one of Tate’s juicy and absolutely delicious burgers.