Most restaurants want to be known for their polite and impeccable service. Not Karen’s Diner. But that’s kind of the point.
The Australian-born burger chain that bills itself as “the rudest restaurant in the world” and styles itself after a 1950s diner is designed to serve up surliness along with its fries—and it’s bringing its unique brand of rudeness with red meat to the West Coast this summer with a pit stop in San Francisco.
From June 16 to 18, a pop-up of Karen’s will serve up shakes and insults to guests during an immersive experience meant to tease diners with sassy humor and skewer the entitlement of Karens around the world. You know, the type of person who always wants to talk with the manager.
Americans may be new to the restaurant’s concept, but the Aussie franchise, with one U.S. location in St. Louis and dozens of joints in the U.K., Indonesia and Down Under, has become a TikTok sensation with videos of Gen Zs, millennials and influencers bringing their unsuspecting parents and grandparents to the restaurant for a roasting by the eatery’s notoriously rude servers. But that’s intentional—the creators of Karen’s hire actors and hospitality workers to sass customers with tongue-in-cheek humor. Instead of just flipping burgers, the restaurant is flipping the traditional power dynamic between waiters and diners on its head.
So what’s on the menu? Malt shop favorites and salty fries—but expect the waitstaff to be even saltier.
An FAQ written in the voice of the restaurant’s proverbial Karen gives potential customers a taste. For instance, dietary restrictions are accepted, but Karen’s “not happy about it.” And children are allowed, but only before 5 p.m.—and even then, begrudgingly.
“If one starts screeching, manage the noise or leave,” reads the FAQ. In truth, kids under 16 aren’t allowed after 5 p.m.
While the banter may be bruising, Karen’s prohibits body-shaming and making racist, sexist, homophobic or ableist comments, among other house rules—so expect Karen-like humor that’s more calling out rude behavior rather than targeting people who, say, call the police on their neighbors. And the creators say they want to create a safe space for what they call “rude hospitality.”
In the end, the ribbing is all in good fun—and maybe a reminder to be kind to waiters, check your privilege at the door and tip nicely. So if you’re in the mood for attitude, Karen’s Diner awaits.
Christina Campodonico can be reached at email@example.com