Restaurants generally pride themselves on providing the best possible service and being extraordinarily polite to diners. But a restaurant chain has now arrived in the UK which aims to offer quite the opposite – where vegan customers can expect to be booed and customers wearing glasses should be prepared for insults.
Karen’s Diner takes its name from the slang term referring to a particular type of woman perceived to be overly demanding with an exaggerated sense of entitlement. It is an Australian phenomenon comprising novelty restaurants where waiters and waitresses, in effect actors, try to be as rude and obnoxious to customers as possible.
Alongside this vanity, real food is served – and Britain’s first Karen’s opened in Sheffield, followed quickly by another near Manchester. Alex Grove, content editor with Yorkshire Livewent to see what Britain can expect – and it looks like the place is as abrasive as expected.
“When I heard a restaurant with rude staff and terrible service was coming to Sheffield I knew I wanted to try it,” Alex said. “It’s already hugely popular in Australia – but we Brits are a funny bunch and I was really intrigued to see how it would work here.
“As we walked in, it was immediately obvious that we were going on a wild, offensive dash. We were truly at the mercy of the waiters and waitresses who didn’t hold anything back and really went for it – in the best way possible.”
Alex continued: “As soon as we walked into another restaurant we were booed for being vegan and it wasn’t long before the brooding, miserable facade pointed us towards our table. It was insult after insult, with wild jibes that made my toes curl.
“I honestly can’t praise the staff enough for how uncomfortable they made me feel. There’s a reason this restaurant is only suitable for people over 16 – and it’s not is definitely not the place for the easily offended.”
Alex then described what happened and listed some of the things the staff said. “A person with glasses was called ‘ginger four eyes’, my friend got called ‘f****** embarrassing’ when she ordered the vegan option and the waiters tore up a drawing on which I spent a good 10 minutes.
“With these things you have to get into the spirit and I took it upon myself to release some inner rage and be snide to the staff. It was actually quite cathartic to do that in a restaurant and even though it’s not for everyone – some people will absolutely love it.”
Alex said the food – burger and fries – was “thrown” on the table. Meanwhile, staff “were really not happy” with requests for knives, forks and condiments.
“To end the evening, the staff made me a hat, which seemed like a nice gesture. That was until I looked at what was written on it (‘I have a small penis’)”, Alex said.
“I have to admit I doubted how far Karen would go and how insulting, rude and terrible the whole experience would be. But I can honestly say they didn’t disappoint and I found myself in shock at some things they said and did.”
Summing it up, he said, “If you’re easily offended, avoid this place like the plague. If you want to experience this lewd novelty, get yourself booked.”