Restaurants usually pride themselves on good service. It’s different in the Australian “Karen’s Diner”: Here guests are accosted and served particularly badly.

Even entering the restaurant is a different kind of experience. After the guests have been ignored for a good five minutes, a waitress sneaks up with an annoyed expression.

“Have you made a reservation?” The guests nod. “Well, then you can wait a bit too,” says the waiter harshly and leaves. Finally she comes, motions her head to follow her – and then listlessly throws the menus at the table from two meters away, so that they splash on the floor. The guests meekly scrape the menu cards off the floor and settle into the candy-colored chairs. Welcome to Karen’s Diner.

Sit down and shut up

The eatery is located in the World Square shopping center in the heart of Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD). On the pink and mint green facade you can read what it’s all about: “Great food, terrible service”. The rules of conduct are also noted on a sign: “Sit down and shut up.” However, dinner does not take place in silence. This is ensured by snotty waitresses and various trivia games in which the guests can only make a fool of themselves – whether they want to or not.

But who is “Karen”? For a number of years, the name has been synonymous with a certain type of woman, especially in the USA, and is now a popular meme known in many countries. The nickname is used to describe middle-aged white women who behave in an outrageous and annoying manner, constantly demanding rights and making claims – and demanding that superiors be called in to clarify the often absurd situations. Accordingly, the slogan of the Karen memes is: “Can I speak to the manager?” The typical hairstyle is a short blonde bob.

“Karen’s Diner” wants to conquer Australia

Anyone who has ever wanted to behave as impossible as a real Karen can now live out this fantasy uninhibitedly in the diner, the makers emphasize: “At “Karen’s” you are greeted and served by rude waiters, who in return expect you to serve your give the very best Karen. A place where you can complain until the doctor comes because we literally don’t care.” On the tables there are headbands made of cardboard that imitate the bob cut and with which visitors can also transform themselves into a Karen.

The original “Karen’s Diner” only opened in Sydney last year – but the curious concept is so well received that the chain now wants to conquer all of Australia and even the world. There are already branches in Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and a second location has recently opened in Sydney. In the UK, branches opened in Sheffield and Manchester. Further locations are planned in the USA, Canada and New Zealand, as can be read on the website. Germany is not among them – so far.

Whether age, eating habits, haircut or clothing – everything that is a little out of the norm is used as an opportunity to publicly embarrass the guests. The service staff in red and white aprons have to be extremely quick-witted and act almost like actors.

The vegan is booed

When an Asian woman orders the vegan version instead of a meat or chicken burger, a waiter grabs the microphone, points his finger at the woman and calls out in a malicious voice: “We have a vegan in the room! Buuuuuh!» A “boo” chorus resounds through the bar, followed by lots of laughter. The interactive 1950s-style burger shop is designed to be fun. The chain itself speaks of an “absurdly funny experience”. The restaurant is popular for birthday parties or bachelor parties.

However, the taunts get down to business, they gossip and defame, the (advanced) age of some of the guests is rudely pointed out – and crude swear words are used more than once. Young people under the age of 16 are therefore only allowed access when accompanied by adults. Even those who are easily offended or take things personally are not in good hands here.

There’s good news for everyone with a real name Karen: you’re getting a free drink. On the other hand, it’s bad if a guest orders something else or asks for ketchup or salt: “Now you’re coming with that? Shouldn’t you have thought of that earlier?” the waitress hisses and rolls her eyes.

“It was an interesting evening,” says a man from Sydney as he exits. «The restaurant keeps everything it promises: brazen service, a funny show and delicious burgers.»

But there is also misunderstanding. “Karen’s Diner” was hotly debated on social networks after it opened. “Why would anyone want to eat in a restaurant with such a negative atmosphere, it’s absolutely not for me,” wrote one Australian. Another user said: “What a complete waste of money. There must be something wrong with people if they pay good money to be intentionally insulted.”

Meanwhile, the evening ends just as rudely as it began. Late at night, one of the waiters grabs the microphone again. “Go pay your bills!” he rumbles. “And then get out of here!”