He may only answer to the name “Foodgod,” but Jonathan Cheban, the Russian-born TV personality and entrepreneur-turned-foodie, is having a not-so-heavenly experience as the face of the popular burger joint Burgerim. The company has gone belly-up, its Israeli owner has fled the country, employees haven’t been paid in months and thousands of investors have lost tens of thousands of dollars.
Best known for his close relationship with the Kardashian family and appearances on Keeping up with the Kardashians, Foodgod became the official spokesperson of Burgerim last year, posting rave reviews of the patties on social media.
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“HOLY BURGERS! I love this spot @officialburgerim,” he tweeted. As part of his advertising campaign, the foodie fanatic even took Kim Kardashian to the chain’s Woodland Hills, Calif., location, which drew a rapturous review from the mega star.
However, as of this week, Burgerim, whose catchphrase is, “the fastest growing burger chain in the U.S.,” may well prove to be the fastest declining burger chain in the U.S. after reports surfaced that the chain had been overly aggressive in its franchising efforts. According to a report in Restaurant Business, Burgerim solicited some 1,200 people “inexperienced in restaurants or franchising—teachers, cooks, accountants, police officers, engineers, war veterans and real estate professionals, many of whom drained savings accounts and retirement accounts to pay their fee, all hoping for a piece of the American dream.” The article also cites that the company went from owning one location in 2016 to over 200 by 2019 and launched a social media campaign to find investors. On Facebook, a post appeared on their page, which stated, in all caps “NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY” and that those interested needed only $50,000 to open a restaurant.
Foodgod has officially cut ties with Burgerim and slapped the burger joint with a legal suit looking to reclaim funds owed to him and requesting that it ceases to use his image for advertising purposes.