NEWS - In a world where dining out has become a mundane experience, one restaurant is breaking the mold and offering something new and controversial. Karen's Diner, located in the heart of downtown, has been making waves with its unique approach to dining.
Instead of the usual pleasantries and customer service, Karen's Diner is infamous for its sassy and sometimes downright insulting waitstaff. Customers come for the insults and leave with a new perspective on the dining experience.
People are now flocking to Karen's Diners around the globe for good food, delicious beverages, and rude service.
The Rise of Karen's Diner: A New Type of Dining Experience
In 2021, near the end of Covid lockdowns in Australia, Aden Levin, co-founder of the event-producing company Viral Ventures, wanted to start a new enterprise with his business partner, James Farrell.
At that time, the notorious “Karen” meme was sweeping social media. Levin and Farrell had an epiphany to serve quality food with bad service.
Levin and Farrell tested the waters with Karen’s Diner by committing to a six-month popup at the World Square center in Sydney. At first, the restaurant drew mixed responses from crowds. However, people soon found that they liked the idea of being berated as they ate.
The staff of Karen's Diner abides by certain guidelines so that their rude behavior doesn't go beyond ethical standards. In an interview with PerthNow, Levin assured interested customers that the restaurant is about having a good time:
“People leave Karen’s Diner feeling not like they’ve just been through nine rounds with Mike Tyson, but with ‘wow, that was really fun and different, and I’ve gotten rid of all my pent up energy by giving banter back to the waitstaff.’”
The Concept: Insult-Based Dining
In an interview with insider.com, Chelsea, a senior venue manager at Karen’s Diner in Sheffield, UK, highlighted the experience of being rude to customers while gaining positive reviews in return.
"You just get everything that's bothered you out on that shift. It just comes straight out of your mouth. So if a customer's getting on your nerves, you just tell them to shut up, and you get on with it.”
Chelsea also said that the restaurant doesn't require the staff to stay in character for every customer who walks in. If they can't handle the rudeness, customers can request that their servers dial down or turn off the attitude.
Employees will happily oblige with the request and serve diners as respectfully as possible.
Anyone who requests a full Karen’s Diner experience can expect a middle finger or two from the waitstaff when requesting an additional serving.
The Experience: A Night at Karen's Diner
At its core, Karen’s Diner is an interactive dining experience. Despite the rudeness they bring, staff members must abide by strict house rules. Any employee or customer can get the boot if they don't follow these regulations:
- No ableist, homophobic, racist, or sexist slurs at any time
- No sexual harassment
- No body shaming
- No throwing of food or drinks
- Immediate removal if any damage or vandalism to the establishment occurs with willful intent.
“We look forward to never seeing you again” – A Karen's Diner employee
Walking into Karen’s Diner can be a nervous experience, as the TikTok user shows in the video below (note that the video contains some strong language and profanity). The video went viral and has over 2.8 million views at the time of writing.
@yannayaptista WE REALLY ENJOYED THE WHOLE TIME! 😂😂😂 @IG: yourdarlingangel✨ ♬ original sound - Diane Val
Before entering the establishment, diners can see the house rules they need to follow. They will probably have to wait for a server to seat them, which may come with the employee rolling their eyes to express annoyance.
The entire dining experience can be quite surreal. The server may demand that a customer get the ordered food items from a faraway table. Commenters have expressed their fear yet interest in going into the restaurant.
One TikTok user says that it's the one place where they can be their true self. Another user commented that they can’t handle the service because their anxiety will shoot through the roof.
A customer can claim a free drink if they can prove that their real name is Karen.
The Future: Karen's Diner Expansion
Despite its humble beginnings, Karen’s Diner is now a global sensation with 17 restaurants in different international locations.
Although it isn’t the only unique dining experience in the world, Karen's Diner innovates the idea of eating in a restaurant. While other food establishments focus on respect and optimal customer service, Karen's Diner takes that concept and flips it.
Interviewers also get the “Karen treatment." Reporter Sam Cucchiara of A Current Affair asked a staff member at the Melbourne location what it’s like to talk to customers who have never dined in the restaurant.
Kali, the interviewed employee, said that those people should “do their f------ homework.”
You can watch the following video for perspectives from a Karen's Diner employee in the UK. Note that some strong language is used in the clip:
Interested customers can visit the Karen's Diner Contact Us page for concerns and inquiries.