Customers are encouraged to be rude at Karen’s Diner


Karen’s Diner serves burgers and fries with a side of attitude. The pop-up was a hit in Hollywood last month and plans to return. Photo courtesy of Karen’s Diner.

The experience starts right when you approach the restaurant door. A hostess screams at you to read a flyer listing 12 rules that staff and guests have to follow: No racism. No homophobia. No sexism, no sexual remarks. Don't touch the staff or customers. No body image comments, no ableism. Guests have to stop filming, if asked. No vandalism, no flashing, no throwing food or drinks, and no threats.  

But everything else is fair game. 

Karen’s Diner popped-up in Hollywood for one weekend in April and invited customers to play games, eat, and endure foulmouthed abuse from wait staff for $60 a person. 

Employees here are trying to bring out your inner Karen. The idea of restaurant plus in-your-face-comedy experience is to create an environment where people can dish it right back to the waiters. It’s the perfect opportunity to be rude without being judged.

The original Karen’s Diner opened in 2021 in Sydney, Australia, and the concept has since spread from San Diego to Calgary, Canada, with permanent outposts in the U.K. and Australia. 

“The traditional Karen went viral all over social media,” explains Robbie Alexander, who’s in charge of hiring and training the abusive servers – in LA, mostly actors, naturally. “They're usually middle-aged women who have a problem in any restaurant or hospitality venue, and they love to voice it and make a scene.”

Wendie Wilson-Miller is here to give it a try, along with her husband and two school-age sons. Before they get a chance to order food, she’s chosen by Michael Reuven, the manager, to play a game. Wilson-Miller is given five seconds to name three reasons why she hates her kids. 

“Um … loud!” she calls out through a loud countdown. “Dirty! Smelly!” 

“You heard that, right?” Reuven says to the youngsters. “Mommy doesn't like you.” The entire restaurant, including Wilson-Miller’s kids, erupts in laughter. 

When it’s time to order, Wilson-Miller’s husband gets the Tree Hugger option. It’s a vegan burger, prompting the waitress to yell, “We have a vegan! Everybody moo him!”

The family is showered with a chorus of “MOOO!” 

Wendie Wilson-Miller and her family order food at Karen’s Diner The vegan option gets you showered with disapproving moos. Photo by Rebekah Ludman. 

“I think a little bit it's possible the kids bit off more than they can chew here at Karen’s Diner. I'm questioning my parenting choices, but they're handling,” Wilson-Miller says. 

While customers finish their food, Reuven announces the final game: the Wheel of Misfortune. People bring out their phones to record videos during this portion of the experience. This one includes karaoke, dancing, and gossiping. Every person in the restaurant gets to play, even those hiding in the corner clearly hoping to be overlooked. 

Michael Reuven, the manager, announces the final game as customers record on their phones. Photo by Rebekah Ludman. 

Before they are called to participate, the Wilson-Miller family packs up to leave. 

“We’re out of here, this place sucks,” her husband screams back into the dining room. He bangs on the window outside, laughing and yelling at staff as he goes. 

Afterwards, Alexander calls the Hollywood engagement a success. It’s time to head to San Francisco and San Diego. But Karen’s Diner will be back the weekend of July 14 in LA.